By Benjamin Pulta
MANILA – The anchors and reporters of Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) on Tuesday filed a petition before the Supreme Court, questioning the order of the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), which suspends the network.
In their 46-page petition filed by their lawyer, former presidential spokesperson Herminio “Harry” Roque, the group claimed the NTC’s action infringes on their freedom of press and expression.
“(W)ithout any mandate and without any clear or present danger, the Respondent is curtailing the Petitioners’ right to freedom of expression and of the press,” the group’s petition read.
“Whenever the force of government or any of its political subdivisions bears upon to close down a private broadcasting station, the issue of free speech infringement cannot be minimized, no matter the legal justifications offered for the closure,” it added.
SMNI earlier filed a petition with the Court of Appeals, challenging the NTC’s initial order, but it was dismissed on Jan. 4, 2024, due to a technicality.
The NTC issued the order which extends the network’s earlier suspension.
The petitioners, SMNI anchors and reporters, reiterated that the orders are invalid, unconstitutional, and violate their right to freedom of expression and the press.
“Jurisprudence unequivocally holds that the National Telecommunications Commission has no jurisdiction to revoke the right of a holder of a legislative franchise to operate its broadcast stations,” they said.
“Such suspension not only deprives them of income, but also and more importantly, operates to curtail their right to freedom of expression and of the press,” they added. (PNA)