SMNI to appeal 14-day MTRCB suspension

Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
SMNI to appeal 14-day MTRCB suspension
The MTRCB on Tuesday issued a 14-day suspension order on “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” and “Laban Kasama ang Bayan” that became effective last Monday.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines —  Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) is expected to file a motion for reconsideration after the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) imposed a 14-day preventive suspension order on two of its programs that feature former president Rodrigo Duterte and former administration official Lorraine Badoy.

SMNI legal officer Mark Tolentino said the appeal would be filed “before Christmas.”

Former presidential spokesman Harry Roque backed the decision of SMNI to file an appeal.

“They can appeal it. I hope they appeal it because what is at stake here is freedom of expression and freedom of the press,” Roque told The STAR.

The MTRCB on Tuesday issued a 14-day suspension order on “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” and “Laban Kasama ang Bayan” that became effective last Monday.

“That is actually subsequent punishment and that already exceeds the power of the MTRCB. It is not a board of censor. It is only a classification board and of course, the suspension order was done because the host asked a question. You can issue a preventive suspension if you ask a question,” Roque added.

The agency said the suspension was a result of a “thorough review and investigation” on supposed violations on the show’s aired content.

“If a host asks a question about an issue concerning public interest and as far as the (former) president is concerned, that is the president’s style, we are used to it. When he was president, he was never censored using the same language,” Roque noted.

The MTRCB maintained that it was found that certain aspects of the above-mentioned programs may have violated the established guidelines and standards set by Presidential Decree 1986 and its implementing rules and regulations governing broadcasting content.

It added that it received multiple complaints regarding an alleged death threat made on the show “Gikan sa Masa,” but did not directly name Duterte as the guest.

SMNI had committed to pre-recording and reviewing episodes, but another complaint on alleged death threats and profane language was filed regarding another episode last month.

“Laban Kasama ang Bayan,” for its part, was suspended over an unverified report claiming that Speaker Martin Romualdez has travel funds amounting to P1.8 billion.

Badoy and co-anchor Jeffrey Celiz were recently detained at the House of Representatives after they were cited in contempt over the unverified report.

Meanwhile, Sen. Francis Tolentino reacted to the MTRCB’s decision to suspend two programs of SMNI.

He said he has yet to read the decision and could not yet comment on whether it was legally sound.

“If the MTRCB will stick to the facts and evidence, they may be correct. If you transgress freedom of the press and freedom of expression, these are solid constitutional grounds that implicate higher rights,” he said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum yesterday.

“Freedom of the press occupies a higher rank in the hierarchy of rights anywhere in the world,” Tolentino said.

Earlier, Tolentino had called for the banning of the movie “Barbie” for violating Filipino fisherfolks’ rights in the West Philippine Sea with a map showing China’s invalidated nine-dash line in one of the scenes.

“The rights of our fishermen, that’s not a movie,” he said. – Cecille Suerte Felipe

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