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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Padilla bill calls for Senate inquiry on SMNI suspension

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Senator Robin C. Padilla is seeking a Senate investigation on the possible violation of press freedom over the indefinite suspension of Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) owned by Apollo Quiboloy who is facing child abuse charges. 

In his proposed Senate Resolution 1000, Padilla noted that “the imposition of baseless suspension orders on SMNI not only constitutes a denial of due process but also an erosion of press freedom.”

Padilla said the Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, which he chairs, will conduct the inquiry.

He also stressed that the right of the people to public information “should not be unduly curtailed” because access to information on matters of public concern and of “general interest” can help people in democratic decision-making “by giving them a better perspective of vital issues confronting our society.”

He pointed out that the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), which suspended SMNI’s operations since end-2023 and issued an indefinite suspension, failed to indicate why it needed to do so “much more express how this is necessary to avoid serious and irreparable damage or inconvenience to the public or to private interests.”

Quiboloy has an arrest order issued by the Senate Committee on Women Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality and was also cited in contempt for failure to appear in the hearings looking into several complaints filed against him. 

Padilla, meanwhile said he wants to explore how media can fulfill its mandate of “maintaining a healthy and functioning democracy” during times of conflict, including the escalating territorial and maritime dispute in the South China Sea.

Padilla filed Senate Resolution 999 which he said cites the importance of media in fostering public discussion, truth and credibility, the rule of law especially in broadcasting, news reporting. and information dissemination.

He pointed out the Philippines stands to be affected by various sorts of global and political tension from conflicts including the Philippines’ dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea; the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the increasing tension between Israel and Iran.

According to Padilla, “The WPS dispute poses potential threats to the entire ASEAN region and inadvertently puts the Philippines in a potential crisis, while the Russia-Ukraine conflict may affect long-existing issues including soaring inflation, fuel shortages, and food insecurity.”

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