House approves bill revoking franchise of Quiboloy-owned SMNI

Kaycee Valmonte

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House approves bill revoking franchise of Quiboloy-owned SMNI

DEMONSTRATION. Members of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and supporters of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy gather outside the Senate to protest the probe into alleged abuses within KOJC, March 5, 2024.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

'SMNI does not have the right to claim that the revocation of their franchise is an issue of press freedom when they are actively spreading misinformation,' says Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives on Wednesday, March 20, voted to approve on third and final reading a measure seeking to revoke the franchise of Apollo Quiboloy-owned Swara Sug Media Corporation, which operates Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI).

Voting 284-4-4, lawmakers approved House Bill No. 9710, following several hearings that revealed SMNI’s franchise violations, including spreading false information and red-tagging.

This cuts short the franchise granted to SMNI under Republic Act (RA) No. 11422 in 2019, which was supposed to expire in 2044.

“While freedom of the press is a fundamental right that should be protected, it does not extend to the spread of misinformation and lies,” Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas said in explaining her “yes” vote.

“SMNI does not have the right to claim that the revocation of their franchise is an issue of press freedom when they are actively spreading misinformation.”

The lower chamber began looking into SMNI in November after its program host Jeffrey “Ka Eric” Celiz said on-air that House Speaker Martin Romualdez spent over P1.8 billion on his international travels, without verifying the information he received from his source. According to House officials, the travels only cost around P4.347 million.

During the House investigations, SMNI hosts were cited in contempt and detained for a week. Celiz was cited for his refusal to reveal his Senate source, while consistent red-tagger Lorraine Badoy was cited for lying during the probe. (READ: Detained SMNI hosts ask for remedy often used by activists they red-tag)

SMNI also failed to report changes in the company to Congress, which is required under RA 11422. It had transitioned in 2006 from a nonstock, nonprofit corporation to a sole corporation under controversial pastor Quiboloy. In 2023, its controlling stake was transferred to Marlon Acobo of Quiboloy’s Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC) church, again without the move being disclosed to Congress.

ACT Teachers Representative France Castro noted how Quiboloy has ignored calls to appear before both chambers of Congress. The doomsday pastor is also being investigated in the Senate following allegations of abuse made by former KOJC workers. (READ: Quiboloy charged with non-bailable human trafficking case in PH court)

“Hindi dapat ihanay ang SMNI sa iba pang media (You should not put SMNI in the ranks of other media groups),” Castro said.

“Para itong isang insulto sa marangal na propesyon ng mga tunay na media at media practitioners (This is like an insult to the honorable profession of the true media and media practitioners).” –

1 comment

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  1. ET

    I hope this serves as a lesson to Pastor Quiboloy and the Duterte Political Dynasty’s disinformation machinery. But I do not believe they will ever learn because disinformation is (for them) an excellent habit and addiction that cannot be broken.

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