MTRCB junks SMNI’s plea to lift suspension on two programs

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com
MTRCB junks SMNI�s plea to lift suspension on two programs
Litrato ni Kingdom of Jesus Christ leader Apollo Quiboloy at ng SMNI News
Released / Sonshine Media

MANILA, Philippines — The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) affirmed its decision to suspend the two programs of the Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) after it aired unverified information and death threats. 

In a resolution dated January 25, the MTRCB denied the motion for reconsideration filed by SMNI on January 11, asking the regulatory board to lift the suspension on the programs “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” and “Laban Kasama ang Bayan.”

“The Board finds no cogent reason to revise, reverse or set aside the assailed Decision dated 04 January 2024,” MTRCB’s resolution read. 

“MTRCB’s mandate is to protect viewers from inappropriate content, more so on Television where viewers of all ages have unadulterated access. Grounded in the principles of due process and fairness, our resolve to enforce accountability in media content regulation is resolute,” MTRCB Chairperson Lala Sotto said in a separate press release.

Following the board’s decision, one of SMNI’s lawyers, Rolex Suplico, said that the network will file a petition for review before the Office of the President.

“I am just surprised that the MTRCB decided against SMNI when the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office has already dismissed the criminal complaint filed by Rep. Castro against President Duterte. The MTRCB should have followed the lead of QC Prosecutor,” Suplico said in a Viber message to Philstar.com.

In the network’s petition on January 11, it said that the board suspension “violated the right to freedom of speech, freedom of expression of the press, and due process of law.”

“Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” was hosted by former President Rodrigo Duterte and Apollo Quiboloy, the owner of SMNI and the founder of Kingdom of Jesus Christ church. 

“Laban Kasama ang Bayan” was hosted by Jeffrey Celiz and Lorraine Badoy, who were both suspended by the MTRCB on January 4.

Duterte’s program was suspended after he made death threats on October 11 and Nov. 16, 2023, on-air against Rep. France Castro (ACT-Teachers), threatening the lawmaker to be the “first target” of Vice President Sara Duterte’s confidential funds.

Following the death threats, Castro filed a grave threats complaint against the former president before the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office. However, her complaint was dismissed on January 9. 

Celiz and Badoy’s program, meanwhile, was suspended by the MTRCB network after SMNI aired the hosts’ claim that House Speaker Martin Romualdez allegedly spent P1.8 billion in travel expenses. 

According to the MTRCB, the network's motion for reconsideration simply reiterated the points previously discussed in the earlier submitted position papers.

"As such, the MTRCB has decided to deny both motion for reconsiderations," the resolution read. 

On January 23, the National Telecommunications Commission announced an indefinite suspension of SMNI since the network did not adhere to the commission's initial 30-day suspension order.

Quiboloy received a subpoena from the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality on Tuesday after ignoring multiple invitations for an inquiry into alleged sexual abuse within the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

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