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SMNI shutdown sought over Palparan interview, red-tagging

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
SMNI shutdown sought over Palparan interview, red-tagging
This 2018 photo shows convicted kidnapper and retired general Jovito Palparan Jr., who was transferred to the New Bilibid Prison that year.
The STAR / KJ Rosales

MANILA, Philippines — The mothers of two University of the Philippines students abducted by Jovito Palparan Jr. are asking the National Telecommunication Commission to strip SMNI of its license to broadcast on free TV over its interview with the retired Army general who was convicted of kidnapping in 2018.

Erlinda Cadapan and Concepcion Empeño, along with Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay, said in a 16-page complaint that they believe that the NTC should revoke the broadcast license of SMNI, the media network of fugitive preacher Apollo Quiboloy, as it supposedly spread false information, defamed people and failed to be fair in its reporting.

“Responsibilidad ng SMNI bilang isang broadcasting station na magpahayag ng mga katotohanan at maging patas,” said the mothers of UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn Cadapan who were disappeared in 2006. “Kabaligtaran ang kanilang ginagawa — puro fake news at paninira sa tao ang kanilang pinapalabas. Marapat lamang na tanggalan sila ng lisensya o prangkisa.”

(It is the responsibility of SMNI as a broadcasting station to broadcast the truth and be fair. What they did was the opposite — all they broadcast is fake news and defamation. It is only right for them to be stripped of their license or their franchise.)

Pending a final resolution by the NTC on their complaint, they are asking the commission to issue a cease and desist order against SMNI for it to stop broadcasting the Palparan interview and other segments which involve red-tagging.

Red-tagging

SMNI aired an interview with Palparan from detention by Presidential Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy in a program that was also shared by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict on its official Facebook page.

The interview, said Badoy who is also a spokesperson for NTF-ELCAC, was to “vindicate” Palparan whom she claimed was convicted on “trumped up charges.”

Also during the course of the interview, Badoy and Palparan took turns accusing Vice President Leni Robredo, a presidential candidate, of being in an alliance with communist rebels. This claim was repeated in a news segment that aired in April.

Robredo and her campaign have repeatedly denied links with the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front.

The elder Cadapan and Empeño along with Palabay said in their complaint that “these broadcasts made by SMNI shook us considerably, both mentally and emotionally.”

“Considering the unfortunate plight which our daughters were subjected to and/or despite Palparan’s incarceration, SMNI still aired the interview with the latter based on nothing more than unsubstantiated allegations and/or red-tagging,” Cadapan and Empeño said.

Franchise violated?

They said they are “utterly appalled and disturbed” that a network like SMNI which is mandated by its legislative franchise to be responsible, accurate and balanced in their programming has the gall to broadcast such dubious claims.

“Because of these, its viewers and/or the public are led to biased or unreliable information, not to mention deliberate misrepresentation, to the detriment of public interest,” they added.

They accused SMNI of violating the mandates laid down in its legislative franchise or Republic Act No. 11422, which granted SMNI’s parent company Swara Sug Media Corporation a 25-year franchise to construct, install, operate and maintain for commercial purposes radio and TV broadcasting stations in the country.

Among the mandates by the law to Swara Sug under Section 4 is for it to “provide at all times sound and balanced programming” and “not to use its stations … for the dissemination of deliberately false information or willful misrepresentation, to the detriment of the public interest.”

Cadapan, Empeño and Palabay said SMNI violated these provisions of its legislative franchise when it broadcasted that Robredo is allied with armed communist rebels.

In addition, they said that SMNI failed to stop airing these allegations, which they claimed “have the tendency to propose or incite treason, rebellion or sedition” and are “indecent and immoral.”

Aside from violations of its franchise, SMNI is also accused of violating provisions of the Broadcast Code of the Philippines adhered to by members of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, including the said TV network.

They also said that SMNI violated provisions of Commission on Elections Resolution No. 10730 involving truth in advertising and fair and accurate reporting.

SMNI has recently built a reputation as a haven for pro-government personalities while maligning government critics and attacking independent media, often by baselessly accusing them of being part of the armed communist rebellion.

Its owner, Quiboloy, is a close friend of President Rodrigo Duterte and is wanted by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation over sex trafficking and other charges, which he claimed are designed to tarnish his reputation.

JOVITO PALPARAN JR.

KAREN EMPEñO

NATIONAL TASK FORCE TO END LOCAL COMMUNIST ARMED CONFLICT

RED-TAGGING

SHERLYN CADAPAN

SMNI

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