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House panel votes to terminate SMNI franchise

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The committee on legislative franchises of the House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to terminate the broadcasting privilege granted to Swara Sug Media Corp., also known as Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), according to a press release from the House of Representatives.

At the end of its sixth hearing on alleged violations of SMNI’s congressional franchise, the committee chaired by Parañaque Rep. Gus Tambunting decided to endorse to the plenary the approval of House Bill (HB) No. 9710, authored by Rep. Rodge Gutierrez of 1-RIDER party-list, which seeks the termination of the network’s franchise.

It was committee vice chairman and Surigao del Norte Rep. Johnny Pimentel who moved for the termination of the hearings and the approval of the bill.

Pimentel said the panel has already held six hearings since the latter part of 2023.

“All arguments and issues have been exhaustively discussed. And we have established violations by Swara Sug of at least four sections of its franchise – Sections 4, 10, 11, and 12,” he said.

He said the broadcasting network identified with Pastor Apollo Quiboloy violated Section 4 on its responsibility to be truthful and accurate in its broadcasting.

“They violated Section 10, which requires them to obtain the permission of Congress before any change in ownership,” he said.

Pimentel noted that in 2020, Swara Sug reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it was owned 95 percent by Quiboloy’s Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

However, in 2022, Swara Sug transferred 46-percent of its ownership to another entity without obtaining congressional approval, he said.

He said Section 11 requiring dispersal of ownership to Filipinos was also transgressed.

“They should have offered at least 30 percent to Filipinos. After 29 years, not one share of stock was offered,” he said.

He added that the Section 12, which was also violated, is on the reportorial requirement.

“Klarong-Klaro po ang violations nila (Their violations are clear). On this note, I move that we approve Bill No. 9710 on the termination of Swara Sug’s legislative franchise,” Pimentel told the Tambunting committee.

His motion was seconded by Bulacan Rep. Augustina Dominique Pancho.

Hearing no objection, Tambunting declared the motion carried and the termination bill approved.

SMNI lawyer Mark Tolentino made a last minute attempt to delay the vote by appealing to the committee to read its position paper on Bill No. 9710.

But Tambunting told him that he submitted the position paper 30 minutes before today’s hearing.

Tambunting later directed his committee secretary to furnish panel members and all members of the House a copy of the Swara Sug position paper.*

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