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MANILA, Philippines — A week after the House Committee on Legislative Franchises cited the two Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) anchors in contempt, Lorraine Badoy and Jeffrey “Ka Eric” Celiz were released from detention for “humanitarian considerations.”
House Secretary-General Reginald Velasco and Committee on Legislative Franchises chairperson Parañaque 2nd District Representative Gus Tambunting signed their release orders on Tuesday, December 12.
The two brought their plight before the Supreme Court on Monday, December 11, to seek their release, filing a petition for certiorari with a request for the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
On November 30, the two were summoned to a House investigation after Celiz falsely claimed on their live television program that House Speaker Martin Romualdez spent over P1.8-billion in travel this year.
Celiz was cited in contempt by irked lawmakers on December 5 after he refused to reveal his source in the Senate, citing the Republic Act No. 11458 or the Sotto law, which allows journalists to protect their source. He would reveal his source to Tambunting on Monday.
Badoy, in the same House probe on December 5, was also cited in contempt after she gave lawmakers confusing answers during interpellation.
Fate of SMNI in limbo
On Monday, the lower chamber adopted a resolution that calls on the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to suspend SMNI for violating the terms of its franchise.
The National Union of Journalists previously cautioned against the resolution brought to the table by PBA Representative Margarita Nograles since it “involves the same NTC that has blocked access to alternative news sites Bulatlat and PinoyWeekly based on a letter request from the National Security Council and without due process.”
“We do not claim them, but these proceedings potentially affect the rights that our community continues to fight for,” the statement published on December 5 read.
However, House committee hearings held on SMNI in the last two weeks have revealed lapses and violations made by the network.
1-RIDER Representative Ramon Rodrigo Gutierrez filed on Monday House Bill 9710, which seeks to revoke the franchise granted to SMNI or Swara Sug Media Corporation after committing “multiple grave infractions in violation of its franchise grant.”
Gutierrez noted in his bill that “the operation of Swara Sug or SMNI is considered a threat to national security and stability as it continues to use its platform to disseminate unverified and untruthful statements.” – Rappler.com