The House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Franchises on Wednesday adopted a motion to subpoena Pastor Apollo Quiboloy in connection with the panel’s inquiry into alleged violations of the congressional franchise granted to Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI).
Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, the panel’s vice chairman, moved that the panel summon Quiboloy, who is SMNI’s honorary chairman.
“We have to issue a subpoena to compel him to attend our next hearing,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel said if Quiboloy does not attend the committee’s next hearing, the panel would be forced to cite him in contempt and to order his arrest.
Pimentel said the pastor’s name has been mentioned in numerous instances in the course of the inquiry into SMNI’s alleged franchise violations and it was time that he explained his side.
“We have invited him not once and several times, but unfortunately, he has not attended our hearings,” he added.
Rep. Arlene Brosas of party-list group Gabriela seconded Pimentel’s motion, which Tambunting pronounced as approved after none of the committee’s members objected.
Brosas said though the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has indefinitely suspended SMNI’s radio and television broadcasting operations, the Davao City-based network runs a number of online social media platforms.
She claimed that SMNI continues to “disseminate fake news and red-tagging” on social media where its program hosts and anchors even express their gratitude to Quiboloy.
Brosas along with Reps. Raoul Daniel Manuel of Kabataan, France Castro of Alliance of Concerned Teachers and Brosas complained against the social media presence of SMNI.
Manuel said even Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez “was red-tagged.”
He said some SMNI anchors who have apologized for peddling fake news continue to dish out the same stuff.
“They have no remorse,” he said.
Pressed by Brosas on what the NTC could do to stop SMNI’s alleged dissemination of fake news and red-tagging on social media, NTC Commissioner Alvin Blanco said his agency could only act on supposed violations of the network of its legislative franchise.
Blanco reported to legislators during the hearing that SMNI continued to operate one radio-TV station in Western Visayas last Dec. 27 despite the NTC order suspending its broadcasting services issued last Dec. 21.
SMNI lawyer Mark Tolentino denied this.
The NTC report irked Pimentel, who said, “SMNI thinks they are above the law. Even in their programs, tingin nila sila ang hari.”
He reiterated his appeal for the committee to endorse the revocation of SMNI’s franchise.
“We have already proved that the network has violated at least four sections of its legislative franchise,” he said.