MTRCB suspends ex-President Duterte’s program on SMNI


President Rodrigo Duterte (left) with the logo of the SMNI and MTRCB. Image from RTVM via AP, SMNI, MTRCB

The Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) issued a 14-day preventive suspension order on two programs of Sonshine Media Network Inc. (SMNI), including that of former President Rodrigo Duterte in connection with his utterance of death threats and use of profane language which the management failed to curb.

In a statement, the MTRCB through its chairperson Lala Sotto-Antonio suspended the airing of “Gikan Sa Masa, Para Sa Masa” (From the Masses, For the Masses), and “Laban Para sa Bayan,” both public affairs programs of SMNI, a media company owned by Pastor Apollo Quiboloy.

The board found merit in handing the preventive suspension on the programs “to prevent a possible repetition of these alleged infractions which may pose a negative impact on public welfare, ethical considerations, and the overall reputation of the broadcasting industry.”

“During the December 13 board meeting, a unanimous decision was reached to impose a 14-day preventive suspension on ‘Laban Kasama ang Bayan’ and a majority vote for ‘Gikan Sa Masa, Para Sa Masa.’ The decision aligns with the powers granted to the MTRCB by Presidential Decree No. 1986, ensuring that television programs adhere to contemporary Filipino cultural values,” the MTRCB said.

“Upon careful review and consideration of recent events and complaints received by the Board, it was found that certain aspects of the abovementioned programs may have violated the established guidelines and standards set by Presidential Decree No. 1986 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) governing broadcasting content,” the board further stated.

The suspension was effective December 18, citing Section 3, Chapter XIII of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Presidential Decree No. 1986, the law creating the MTRCB.

Under this provision, a preventive suspension order may be issued by the Chairman at “any time during the pendency of the case, and in order to prevent or stop further violations or for the interest and welfare of the public.”

A Preventive Suspension Order mandates “the preventive seizure of offending motion pictures and related publicity materials and/or suspension of the permit/permits involved, and/or closure of the erring movie house, television network, cable TV station and other related establishments or the temporary/preventive dismantling or tearing down of public signs and billboards provided that the temporary/preventive order thus issued shall have a life of not more than twenty (20) days from the date of issuance.”

Duterte’s profane words, death threats

“Gikan Sa Masa, Para Sa Masa” (Gikan) is hosted by Quiboloy, a close friend and supporter of Duterte.

According to the MTRCB, “Gikan” was subject of review after the board received multiple complaints after Duterte, who acted as guest of the program, uttered profanities and issued death threats against House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro during its October 10 episode.

Following a preliminary conference last November 8, the board said that “SMNI committed to pre-recording and reviewing episodes, having been warned by the Board that similar incidents will be dealt with more sternly.”

However, on its November 15 episode, the MTRCB again received another complaint against “Gikan,” again about the use of profane words by its guest.

Subsequently, a notice was issued to SMNI to appear before the Hearing and Adjudication Committee on  December 7, with the respondent represented by counsel Atty. Mark Tolentino.

Another SMNI program suspended

Meanwhile, “Laban Kasama ang Bayan,” (Laban) was likewise investigated by MTRCB for broadcasting supposed unverified reports during its November 27 episode. The report was in connection with the purported expenditure of P1.8 billion in travel funds by House Speaker Martin Romualdez.

A notice was then issued to SMNI for “Laban,” and a meeting for Hearing and Adjudication Committee followed on December 7.

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In handing out its ruling, the MTRCB said the order of preventive suspension is a proactive measure aimed at addressing concerns and ensuring compliance with established standards which shall be in effect for fourteen (14) days, during which SMNI is expected to address and rectify the identified issues.

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