Apollo Quiboloy

[Newspoint] Fake press, undeserved freedom

Vergel O. Santos

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

[Newspoint] Fake press, undeserved freedom

David Castuciano

Indeed to claim that SMNI is press and Quiboloy a member of the press fraternity is to misrepresent their statures untenably, ludicrously

Pastor Apollo Quiboloy may have been entitled to the customary deference extended to churchmen, but once he accepted political and state privileges he made himself fair game. And Congress got him on that.

Both its houses summoned him to hearings and, when he refused to appear, cited him for contempt and ordered his arrest. But he remains defiant, even after the National Telecommunications Commission, signaling dead-seriousness, has suspended the franchise Congress granted his radio-television company, Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI).

The commission took its cue from the House of Representatives, which had declared SMNI in violation of certain terms of its franchise. The violation had to do with an untruthful broadcast saying the Speaker, Martin Romualdez, had spent such amounts of taxpayer money on his travels as to suggest profligacy, or even graft.

SMNI claimed it was an honest mistake, but the House was convinced it was malicious. Anyway, given the new partisan realignments, it is difficult to discount politics from the whole affair.

Much about Quiboloy and his SMNI, indeed, smacks of politics. In the last previous presidency, that of Rodrigo Duterte, a self-admitted spiritual ward of Quiboloy’s, the network got a 25-year extension of its franchise, and additionally some of the frequencies that had become available after, at Duterte’s instigation, Congress had denied the nation’s preeminent broadcast network, ABS-CBN, a renewal of its own franchise.

With Quiboloy apparently in hiding, Duterte has taken over as caretaker of SMNI, putting himself in the forefront of its own franchise fight. Interestingly enough, it happened after the disenfranchised ABS-CBN had struck a partnership with a media company known to be under the Speaker’s patronage, if not actually owned by him.

Normally, a franchise is renewed as a matter of course, but even before taking office Duterte had threatened to get back at ABS-CBN for failing to air a political advertisement booked for him during his electoral run. Now his resentment is redirected toward Speaker Romualdez, and for a graver reason than anything to do with ABS-CBN: the ruling dynastic pair of cousins Romualdez and President Marcos is breaking its political partnership with the Dutertes.

Quiboloy’s own trouble with the Senate is far more personal and scandalous. Its Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality has taken up complaints of sexual assault and sex trafficking against him. In fact, a court warrant has just been issued against him for the first crime, and, for the second, he has long been wanted in the United States.

In any case, lawyers for Quiboloy don’t fail to remind everyone at every chance that, as a mere accused, he remains “innocent until proven otherwise.” There’s no disputing that – innocence or guilt is for lawyers to argue and for the courts to decide.

But that’s not the case for another of those lawyers’ oft-repeated assertions – that the franchise case against SMNI constitutes an assault on press freedom. It’s an outrageous and insulting insinuation no self-respecting journalist can let pass undisputed. Imagine being lumped with Quiboloy and his fake press! Indeed to claim that SMNI is press and Quiboloy a member of the press fraternity is to misrepresent their statures untenably, ludicrously.

Moreover, for Quiboloy, it also would seem a self-confession of a conflicted condition, a sort of identity disorder. Why allow himself to be demoted from divine to human, thus subject to earthly justice? Doesn’t his very pastorship turn on his self-pronouncement as “the Appointed Son of God?”

On a practical human level, to be sure, the demotion does open for him certain freedoms and rights possibly useful for the moment, during his time as a mortal. There is, for one, the right to appeal to the highest human court if he felt he got a bad deal in Congress.

But press freedom? A talking head does not automatically earn for itself a press membership and the special freedom that goes with it. The press is a people’s watchdog, trained and pledged to hound and reveal the truth in the public interest. The talking heads at SMNI, on the other hand, are motivated by nothing so noble and altruistic at all; they are a rabid pack operating for itself or at the command of some self-interested master.

Among those talking heads is Duterte himself. Now a talk-show monologist, he continues to foulmouth whoever gets in his way, an old untreatable pathology. And for his main backup he has a holdover duet from his autocratic presidency – Lorraine Badoy and Jeffrey Celiz, outstandingly notorious for red-tagging whoever veers off Duterte’s fascistic position. Unwelcoming toward rival contentions, SMNI does not even come up to the minimum measure of fairness expected of the press.

Quiboloy and SMNI will just have to keep on shopping for a freedom that suits the mouthpiece that it is. The freedom to open one’s mouth might be a prospect. But again, so much malign matter has flowed out of the mouths of all those SMNI talking heads it is doubtful that even that most accessible and adaptable of freedoms can be made to work suitably. – Rappler.com


1 comment

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  1. ET

    I agree: “Quiboloy and SMNI will just have to keep on shopping for a freedom that suits the mouthpiece that it is.” This is true because Quiboloy has to ensure that he will not be imprisoned and avoid the revocation of SMNI’s franchise.

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