In the latest development emanating from the Philippines' legislative landscape, two anchors from Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), Lorraine Badoy and Jeffrey Celiz, have been detained at the House of Representatives. The detention followed their citation for contempt by lawmakers during a House committee inquiry. The exact circumstances leading to this drastic measure remain unclear, but it typically happens when individuals refuse to comply with a subpoena, fail to provide necessary testimony, or are perceived to be obstructing the legislative process.
House Committee Inquiry and Contempt Citation
The House Committee on Legislative Franchises cited Badoy and Celiz for contempt due to their alleged disrespectful behavior and refusal to answer relevant questions during an inquiry. The panel was scrutinizing allegations of fake news peddling and red-tagging against the two SMNI hosts. As a result, they may spend the holidays in detention, as lawmakers are still crafting a committee report that needs to be adopted during a House plenary session before their release.
Allegations and Investigation into SMNI
SMNI is currently under investigation for alleged violations of its franchise, including a change of ownership without congressional consent. This is a breach of Section 10, leading to an automatic revocation of the franchise. The Committee on Legislative Franchises adopted a resolution, House Resolution 1499, authored by PBA party-list Rep. Margarita Nograles, urging the National Telecommunications Commission to suspend SMNI's operations.
Hunger Strike and Allegations of Press Suppression
In response to their detention, Badoy and Celiz have commenced a hunger strike to protest what they call a "travesty" in the House proceedings. Badoy has claimed that the recent congressional hearing is an attempt to silence the press, while Celiz believes that the politicians who cited them in contempt and ordered their detention are in league with communist rebels.
Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel has hinted at a high possibility of a franchise revocation for Swara Sug Media Corp, which operates SMNI, as a resolution directing the National Telecommunications Commission to suspend SMNI's operations has been adopted, and a bill seeking the revocation of Swara Sug's franchise is set to be filed.