Congress passes proposal to revoke franchise of the pro-Duterte SMNI

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This article is available in Pilipino

The third hearing in the House of Representatives on March 20 passed House Bill (HB) No. 9710 which seeks to revoke the franchise of Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) due to its violations and controversies. The proposal was supported by 284 congressmen, including representatives of the Makabayan bloc, while four others opposed and four abstained.

SMNI is owned by Apollo Quiboloy, leader of a religious sect. Quiboloy is currently being investigated by the Senate for allegations of rape and abuse of members of his sect. He is also facing charges of sexual abuse and human trafficking in the US.

The committee’s investigation and hearings on the franchise granted by Congress enumerated violations that were the basis for revoking the franchise. These include SMNI’s failure to provide a “sound and balanced program,” failure to report to Congress regarding the sale of the company to other owners, and its failure to reserve 30% of its shares for public ownership.

SMNI and its programs have been embroiled in many cases of Red-tagging and threats against activists and progressive groups. Some of the personnel of the National Task Force-Elcac and the Duterte group such as Lorraine Badoy and Eric Almendras (Eric Celiz) are identified as staff and reporters of the SMNI. The station also featured Rodrigo Duterte stating he “wants to kill” House Minority Deputy Leader and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro and others like her in one of the programs in October 2023.

Gloria Arroyo (Pampanga), Paolo Duterte (Davao City), Drixie Cardema (Duterte Youth party-list), and Ron Salo (Kabayan party-list) voted against the bill.

AB: Congress passes proposal to revoke franchise of the pro-Duterte SMNI