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Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) pays a lot for hosts Jeffrey Celiz and former undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, who is currently facing a number of cases for baselessly red-tagging individuals.
Both are given P100,000 monthly, but they are not considered employees of the network even if they have been working there for three years now.
“They are just talents,” SMNI Lawyer Rolex Suplico told House lawmakers last week.
However, the two are also the reason why SMNI might face sanctions – neither of them are accredited by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas and the two also aired unverified reports.
SMNI and its hosts were summoned by House lawmakers last week, following Celiz and Badoy’s “Laban Kasama ang Bayan” show.
Quezon 2nd District Representative David Suarez noted that airing unconfirmed reports is against the Broadcast Code of the Philippines, which only allows such to be broadcast if there’s a possibility of “imminent danger.” Even then, journalists are supposed to emphasize that the information has yet to be confirmed.
Legal counsels of SMNI, who early on clarified that they were there for the network and not for the two hosts, denied that an unconfirmed statement was made on air. “It was just a question answerable by a yes or no,” Lawyer Mark Tolentino told the panel.
Celiz allegedly received a tip that House Speaker Martin Romualdez and his entourage spent P1.8 billion for international travel expenses this year, a far cry from official numbers – the Office of the House Speaker, according to House Secretary-General Reginald Velasco, spent only P4.347 million in the same period.
However, lawmakers pointed out that the hosts also said on-air: “How do you spend P1.8 billion? Umuuwi pa ba siya ng bahay? (Does he still go home?)”
“That is not a question, Attorney. That is, at the very least, a malicious innuendo,” Suarez said.
It took much prodding from irked lawmakers as Celiz and SMNI’s legal counsels attempted to invoke Republic Act No. 11458 or the Sotto law that allows journalists to protect their sources, before the anchor eventually slipped that his source is from the Senate.
Senate Preside Migz Zubiri on Sunday encouraged the lower chamber to continue their investigation “until they get to the bottom of this accusation.” He added the resource person could also be pressed to reveal the name of their source.
“Otherwise, the House can cite them in contempt,” Zubiri said. Let’s see how things will turn out. – Rappler.com