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House approves revocation of SMNI franchise

The ball is now in the court of the Senate.
File photo: SMNI logo
File photo: SMNI logo

Will SMNI soon lose its franchise?

According to a report by Inquirer, the House of Representatives approved on the third and final reading a bill that revokes the franchise of Swara Sug Media Corp., more commonly known as Sonshine Media Network International or SMNI.

This is the broadcasting network of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ headed by controversial preacher Apollo Quiboloy.

The decision was made during a plenary session on Thursday. A total of 284 lawmakers voted in favor of House Bill No. 9710. This repeals RA No. 11422 which gave the broadcasting network a 25-year legislative franchise that was supposed to end in 2044.

Four lawmakers opposed the bill, namely Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte, Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Duterte Youth party list Rep. Drixie Mae Cardema, and Kabayan party list Rep. Ron Salo. There were four others who abstained.

The matter began last year when one of SMNI's hosts Jeffrey "Ka Eric" Celiz alleged that House Speaker Martin Romualdez spent over PHP 1.8 billion on his international travels, something that the lower chamber has already denied, according to a Rappler report.

House Committee on Legislative Franchises chair and Parañaque City Rep. Gustavo Tambunting said his panel concluded that Swara Sug violated some terms under its franchise.

This includes failing to comply with Sections 4 and 7 due to SMNI's "blatant Red-tagging, fake news peddling and violations of broadcasting standards."

Another violation was Swara Sug’s failure to report to Congress changes in its structure and ownership as required under Sections 10, 11, and 12.

The bill is now in the hands of the Senate.

In the upper chamber, a separate hearing is being conducted regarding the reported abuses being committed by Quiboloy and other members of KOJC. He has continuously rejected the call for him to attend the inquiry.

The Senate has ordered the pastor's arrest.

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