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Sunday, May 19, 2024

RBH 7, bill revoking SMNI franchise up for Senate okay

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The leadership of the House of Representatives expects the Senate to act with dispatch on both the resolution on economic constitutional reform and the bill revoking the franchise of Swara Sug Media Corporation, which operates as Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI).

The House on Wed nesday night ordered the immediate transmittal to the Senate of the two measures—the Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 7 and House Bill (HB) 9710—after passing them on third and final reading.

RBH 7, which mirrors RBH 6 being deliberated in the Senate, seeks to amend specific economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution concerning public utilities, education and advertising by inserting the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” to give more flexibility regarding foreign ownership and participation in certain investments.

Speaker Martin Romualdez, who co-authored RBH No. 7 with several other House leaders and members, said the proposed economic constitutional amendments represent the final component of the investment measures pursued by the administration of President Marcos.

“These changes, if ratified by our people in a plebiscite, will greatly boost these [investment] measures, including our President’s investment missions abroad which have generated actual investments and pledges in the billions of dollars and created thousands of jobs,” Romualdez said.

He said the approval by Congress and by the people of the proposed amendments “will send a powerful message to foreign investors and the international community that the Philippines is now fully open for business and for investments.”

The final approval of RBH 7 followed two weeks of thorough plenary deliberations, which were preceded by equally rigorous and extended two weeks of Committee of the Whole House hearings.

For her part, Senator Imee Marcos said the passage of RBH 7 should not affect the pace and manner by which the Senate conducts its deliberations on RBH 6.

“I think one very important issue that should be addressed is the set of Rules that will govern the voting procedure of the Constituent Assembly,” Marcos added.

Senator Grace Poe related the Upper Chamber has started deliberating on the issue even before the transmittal of the House.

“We have always taken into consideration the other Chamber’s priorities but the Senate has never been in the tradition of railroading any measure,” Poe added.

Meanwhile, HB 9710 effectively repealed Republic Act No. 11422, which extended the franchise granted to Suara Sug for an additional 25 years in August 2019. The renewed franchise was originally scheduled to expire in 2044.

The revocation of SMNI’s franchise was prompted by a series of violations, including spreading fake news, involvement in red-tagging, and committing serious corporate offenses, the House said.

Romualdez said the revocation of SMNI’s franchise was a “decisive action” that “underscores our commitment to uphold the integrity of broadcasting standards and the public’s trust.”

“We are only fulfilling the mandate assigned to us by the Constitution and the people. Nothing personal here. We are only doing our job,” the Speaker added.

SMNI openly admitted to transitioning from a non-stock, non-profit corporation to a sole corporation under Pastor Apollo Quiboloy in 2006.

Later, in 2023, the controlling stake was transferred to Bro. Marlon Acobo, with both transactions taking place without obtaining congressional approval.

Section 10 of RA No. 11422 stipulates the requisite congressional approval for such changes, explicitly prohibiting the sale, lease, transfer, or assignment of the franchise without prior congressional consent.

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