NTC makes 30-day SMNI suspension indefinite

Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
NTC makes 30-day SMNI suspension indefinite
Kingdom of Jesus Christ leader Apollo Quiboloy and SMNI.
News Released / Sonshine Media

MANILA, Philippines — The National Telecommunications Commission yesterday ordered the indefinite suspension in the operation of the radio and television stations of Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), the broadcasting arm of Kingdom of Jesus Christ leader Apollo Quiboloy, after the group failed to comply with an earlier 30-day NTC suspension order.

In a six-page order to cease and desist operation obtained by The STAR, NTC Commissioner Ella Blanca Lopez also directed SMNI to explain why it failed to follow the month-long suspension the commission issued in December last year.

“Pursuant to Sec. 4, Rule 10, the 2006 Rules of Practice and Procedure… the Commission hereby directs respondent to cease and desist from operating its radio and television stations under the authorities enumerated in the 19 December 2023 show-cause-order (with 30-day suspension order pending hearing and final consideration of the above-captioned case),” the order stated.

“Respondent is hereby ordered to submit, within a period of 15 days from receipt hereof, its written explanation as to why it failed to strictly follow the 30-day suspension order,” it added.

The indefinite suspension order was also signed by Deputy Commissioners John Paulo Salvahan and Alvin Bernardo Blanco.

It also directed the concerned NTC regional directors, who exercise territorial jurisdiction in areas where SMNI is operating, to immediately and strictly implement yesterday’s order.

SMNI lawyers Rolex Suplico and Mark Tolentino confirmed to The STAR having received the order and that the media network would comply.

However, they clarified that the social media platform of SMNI would continue to operate as it is not covered by the suspension directive.

They also said that SMNI would file a motion to have the indefinite suspension reconsidered.

In ordering the indefinite suspension, the NTC commissioners noted that the 30-day suspension order was issued against SMNI on Dec. 19, 2023 after the House of Representatives said in Resolution 189 that the SMNI violated several provisions of its franchise as provided under Republic Act 11422.

But instead of filing any answer, the SMNI instead asked the commission to specify and detail the violations it allegedly violated in relation to its Certificate of Public Convenience.

This request was denied by the NTC, which said that the show cause order had already sufficiently and expressly stated the acts alleged to have been committed by the media network.

“To this date, and despite the absence of any request for further extension of time, the Commission has still yet to receive respondent’s answer or any written explanation as to why it should not be administratively sanctioned for having allegedly violated the conditions of its authorities,” the NTC officials said in the order.

“To protect the interest and welfare of the public from any public utility alleged to be violating or have violated the conditions of its authorities, respondent should be prevented in the meantime or during the pendency of this case, from operating its radio and television stations, especially considering that the respondent is yet to provide the Commission with any written submission or explanation directly addressing the allegations against it,” the NTC added.

The House of Representatives, through House Resolution 189, earlier urged NTC to suspend the business of Swara Sug, which operates SMNI, for allegedly violating the terms and conditions of its franchise under Republic Act 11422.

The issue stemmed from the allegations made by SMNI hosts Lorraine Badoy and Jeffrey Celiz that Speaker Martin Romualdez spent P1.8 billion on foreign travel between January and October 2023.

SMNI serves as the broadcasting arm of Quiboloy’s Kingdom of Jesus Christ church.

Quiboloy is on the most wanted list of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation for multiple offenses, including sex trafficking of children.

Earlier, SMNI lawyers Suplico and Tolentino also asked the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board to reconsider the preventive suspension order it issued on two programs that feature former president Rodrigo Duterte and Badoy.

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