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MANILA, Philippines – A House panel has cited Sonshine Media Network International’s (SMNI) Jeffrey “Ka Eric” Celiz in contempt for refusing to name his source who had given him false information on the supposed travel expenses of Speaker Martin Romualdez.
Celiz will be detained until the committee report is adopted at the plenary.
At the start of the House committee on legislative franchises hearing on Tuesday, December 5, Celiz called the panel a “kangaroo court.”
“I will refuse to answer, your Honor, not because I disrespect this committee, but I invoke my right guaranteed by the Constitution because I believe this committee cannot be above the law, especially the Constitution,” Celiz said during the hearing.
Celiz’ response to lawmakers’ questions ended up offending lawmakers, who noted that he refused to give the House panel a name four times and lectured the panel on carrying out due process for the resource persons invited.
Surigao del Sur 2nd District Representative Johnny Pimentel warned Celiz that his actions could lead him to be cited for contempt: “We do not want to cite our resource person for contempt…. Ka Eric, please respect this committee and observe proper decorum.”
Executive session not an option
Last week, the House committee on legislative franchises summoned SMNI and two of its talents, Celiz and co-anchor Lorraine Badoy, for a House probe after the two aired unverified information on the travel spending of Romualdez during their live show.
The alleged P1.8-billion travel expenses of Romualdez in 2023 turned out to only be P4.347 million, as revealed in the House probe last week.
Celiz had said that the information was relayed to him by a source from the Senate.
Navotas City Representative Toby Tiangco suggested that the panel hold an executive session in a bid to make Celiz reveal his source, but the SMNI anchor still refused.
“That would be very dangerous for other media practitioners present here because it will create a very dangerous and negative precedent on the protection of sources provided by law,” Celiz said.
Republic Act No. 11458 or the Sotto law allows journalists to protect their sources and keep them confidential. – Rappler.com