By Wilnard Bacelonia

Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros (PNA file photo by Avito Dalan) 

MANILA – Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros on Monday described as “out of this world” the alleged 17 conditions of Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC) leader Pastor Apollo Quiboloy before he appears before an inquiry of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family and Gender Equality.

In a press briefing, Hontiveros said this is the first time she encountered a resource person who has laid down conditions before attending a Senate inquiry.

“Ang masasabi ko lang dyan, bakit Senado ang mag aadjust sa kanya (What I can say about that is why would the Senate adjust for him [Quiboloy]?,” Hontiveros said.

“The Senate will not bend its rules and procedures for you, Pastor Quiboloy, even if you are, as you say, a self-appointed son of God,” she added.

The first alleged condition cited by Hontiveros orders the panel to “unmask and show the full faces of your witnesses, no mask, no dark eyeglasses, no caps, bonnets, or head covering of any kind.”

Another is Quiboloy saying that “I retain the right to personally cross examine your witnesses. That includes you, Madam Chair (No time limit).”

Hontiveros admitted though that she only saw the alleged conditions spreading in social media and her panel has not received any official communication from Quiboloy’s camp.

“Sana nga hindi totoo eh kaya lang pinamumudmod talaga nila [sa social media] (I hope it’s not true but it is really spreading in social media),” she said.

Probe on SMNI suspension sought

Also on Monday, Senator Robinhood Padilla filed a resolution seeking a Senate inquiry into the indefinite suspension of Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) which is owned by Quiboloy.

In Senate Resolution 960, Padilla sought to have the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, which he chairs, handle the investigation “in aid of legislation.”

“The imposition of baseless suspension orders on SMNI not only constitutes a denial of due process but also an erosion of press freedom,” he said in his resolution.

Padilla maintained the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), in its show-cause and suspension orders on SMNI, “failed to indicate the need to suspend the operations of SMNI, much more express how this is necessary to avoid serious and irreparable damage or inconvenience to the public or to private interests.”

He added that the right of the people to public information “should not be unduly curtailed” because access to information on matters of public concern will help people by giving them a better perspective of vital issues confronting our society.

He noted the Supreme Court – in the case of Chavez vs. Gonzales in February 2008 – made it clear that freedom of the press is “crucial and so inextricably woven into the right to free speech and free expression, that any attempt to restrict it must be met with an examination so critical that only a danger that is clear and present would be allowed to curtail it.”

The NTC noted that the 30-day suspension order was issued against SMNI on Dec. 19, 2023 after the House of Representatives said in Resolution 189 that the SMNI violated several provisions of its franchise as provided under Republic Act 11422.

In response, the SMNI asked the commission to specify and detail its violations concerning its Certificate of Public Convenience.

This request was denied by the NTC, which said the show cause order had sufficiently and expressly stated the acts alleged to have been committed by the media network. (PNA)