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MANILA, Philippines – Two Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) programs are now under a 14-day preventive suspension that began on Monday, December 18, the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) said.
Production for Gikan Sa Masa, Para Sa Masa temporarily halted after former president Rodrigo Duterte threatened ACT Teachers Representative France Castro on two episodes aired in October and November. Meanwhile, the suspension of Laban Kasama ng Bayan comes after Jeffrey “Ka Eric” Celiz and Lorraine Badoy reported without verification a ballooned travel spending of Speaker Martin Romualdez.
“The decision aligns with the powers granted to the MTRCB by Presidential Decree No. 1986, ensuring that television programs adhere to contemporary Filipino cultural values,” MTRCB said in a statement on Tuesday.
The MTRCB said the board, in a majority vote, decided to suspend Gikan Sa Masa, Para Sa Masa, while a “unanimous decision” was met for the suspension of Laban Kasama ng Bayan.
The television and movie watchdog noted that “certain aspects” of the programs may have violated the law. It also pointed out that it has powers to disapprove programs “that may be objectionable, including those undermining faith in the government or authorities, and being libelous or defamatory.”
SMNI is “expected to address and rectify the identified issues” during the 14-day suspension.
SMNI has been under scrutiny following attacks on lawmakers made by its program hosts. In a House committee on legislative franchises hearing, the network’s legal counsels tried to emphasize that they always put disclaimers that they are not liable for whatever their hosts or guests say during the program.
In the October 10 episode of Gikan Sa Masa, Para Sa Masa, Duterte threatened Castro’s life and linked her to the armed communist movement without proof. The MTRCB said that SMNI on November 8 promised to pre-record and review the show’s episodes after a warning from the watchdog.
However, Duterte made another death threat against Castro over a month later, on November 15.
Both incidents have been the subject of Castro’s grave threats complaint against Duterte.
Meanwhile, Celiz and Badoy discussed Romualdez allegedly spending P1.8 billion on his travels this year, citing an unnamed source from the Senate. The accusation has led to a full-blown investigation in the lower chamber, with the hosts ending up being cited in contempt and detained for a week.
“Hopefully, this marks the start of SMNI and the people behind it being made accountable,” Castro said in a statement on Tuesday, December 19.
“The authorities should look into the pattern and consistent red-tagging, terrorist-labelling for longer and more decisive measures,” she added.
The fate of the network remains up in the air. The House of Representatives last week adopted a resolution calling on the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to suspend SMNI due to its violations.
A separate House bill was filed seeking to revoke the franchise granted to SMNI. – Rappler.com