PBA Party-list Rep. Margarita Nograles on Monday filed a resolution urging the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to suspend the operations of Swara Sug Media Corp., operating under the business name Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI).
The grounds for this House Resolution 1499 are rooted in the alleged violation of the terms and conditions of its franchise under Republic Act (RA) 11422.
According to Nograles, the Congress of the Philippines renewed the franchise of Swara Sug Media Corporation in 2019, granting them another twenty-five years under RA 11422. This act emphasized SMNI’s responsibility to the public, mandating the avoidance of deliberate dissemination of false information or willful misrepresentation to the detriment of public interest.
Despite this, Nograles said the SMNI has allegedly failed in its responsibility by disseminating false information.
With this, she said members of the House of Representatives responded by filing House Resolutions condemning the network’s actions and urging the NTC to investigate potential franchise violations.
During the committee hearing last November 30, 2023, it was revealed that SMNI’s program “Laban Kasama ng Bayan” had disseminated false information about Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez’s foreign travel expenses.
In the same hearing, House Secretary General Reginald S. Velasco disclosed that the actual amount incurred was significantly less than the alleged P1.8 billion.
“In the same committee hearing, Mr. Jeffrey “Ka Eric” Celiz, one of the hosts of ‘Laban Kasama ng Bayan,’ admitted that the source of information about the P1.8 billion travel expenses he mentioned during the live airing of the program is wrong and was not validated,” said Nograles.
“With the admission that the source of information was wrong and that the information was not vetted, in addition to the various complaints filed against the SMNI for fake news peddling and red-tagging, it is clear that SMNI violated its responsibility to the public not to use its stations or facilities for the deliberate dissemination of false information or willful misrepresentation to the detriment of the public interest,” she added.
Considering the essential role of telecommunications and broadcast media in the economic development, integrity, and security of the country, it becomes imperative to safeguard the public interest, added the lady solon.
“Pending the recommendation of the Committee on Legislative Franchises on the alleged violations of SMNI, it is the duty of the National Telecommunications Commission to immediately stop the deliberate dissemination of false information that may generate cynicism and mistrust on matters involving public interest,” Nograles said.