Gov’t muzzles Duterte, 2 anchors from Quiboloy’s network

By Beting Laygo Dolor, Editor

MANILA —  The Movie and Television Ratings and Classification Board (MTRCB) this week suspended the shows of former President Rodrigo Duterte and Lorraine Badoy and Jeffrey Celiz aired over Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI).

The reasons cited were Duterte’s death threats and use of profane language, while for Celiz and Badoy it was the false and unverified claim on the Speaker’s travel funds, as well conflicting testimony on their roles in the station as well as advertising revenues.

The MTRCB serves as the country’s board of censors, while SMNI is the TV station owned by the religious organization controlled by the controversial Pastor Apollo Quiboloy.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Dec 19 (Manila time), the MTRCB said it had received several complaints on the alleged violations on Duterte’s “Gikan Sa Masa, Para Sa Masa,” and Badoy and Celiz’s “Laban Kasama oang Bayan.” The suspension is good for a period of two weeks.

It was during his Oct 10 episode of his show that Duterte aired a death threat against ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro.

The House of Representative overwhelmingly stood behind Castro, who later sued the former chief executive. Duterte failed to attend the first two hearings of the case, but also denied threatening Castro.

In the show’s Nov. 15 episode, another guest also issued a death threat and likewise used profane language, which was a hallmark of the Duterte presidency.

The majority of the MTRCB board voted to suspend Duterte’s show, while in the case of the show of Badoy and Celiz, the vote was unanimous.

Celiz and Badoy had been summoned by the House to defend their claim that Speaker Martin Romualdez had spent P1.8 billion for his thforeign travels. House records, however, showed the Speaker only spent a fraction of that sum.

Celiz admitted that his source came from the Senate, but that it had not been verified. For her part, Badoy could not properly explain the source of their show’s revenues.

The House voted to hold the pair in contempt and kept them in house arrest for a week, until they were released in the spirit of the Christmas season.

In preventing the two shows, the MTRCB said: “To prevent the possible repetition if these alleged infractions which may pose a negative impact on public welfare, ethical considerations, and overall reputation of the broadcasting industry, the Board determined the need to preventively suspend the subject program/s.”

The Board warned that similar incidents will be dealt with more severely. SMNI promised to pre-record and review episodes before airing.

The House, however, remained on the warpath against the station, adopting a resolution urging the National Telecommunications Commission to suspend SMNI’s operations.

One lawmaker likewise filed a bill seeking to revoke SMNI’s franchise over alleged violations and for peddling fake news.

A former lawmaker, Teddy Casino, meanwhile, also sued Badoy last week for red tagging him.