That Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) finds itself neck-deep in trouble comes as no surprise. Like its Yellowtard counterpart Rappler, SMNI sprung out of nowhere at a time when the Philippines’ political situation demanded targeted media coverage in aid of certain politicians’ personal agendas. The readily-evident relationships at the top make its intent a foregone conclusion. The head and founder of SMNI is none other than Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, leader of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KJC) and the “spiritual adviser” of former President Rodrigo Duterte. Indeed, SMNI started out as the media arm of KJC with which Qiuiboloy broadcast his televangelist services.
It does not help that Quiboloy is also reportedly wanted in the United States for alleged sexual offenses.
The US Department of Justice said the sex trafficking scheme was organized through Quiboloy’s church, called the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name (KOJC). The operation allegedly ran for 16 years until 2018.
Police arrested three men in the US on Thursday. Quiboloy, however, is still believed to be in Davao City, in the Philippines along with two other suspects named in the indictment.
Known to his six million followers in 200 countries as “The Appointed Son of God,” Quiboloy used a bogus Californian charity to bring the girls and women to the US to work as personal assistants, or “pastorals.”
The women and girls ranged in age from 12 to 25.
More recently, the Philippines’ Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) today reportedly suspended two of SMNI’s programmes, “Gikan Sa Masa, Para Sa Masa” (From the Masses, for the Masses) and “Laban Kasama ang Bayan” (Fight Together with the Nation). According to the MTRCB
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The MTRCB said complaints were filed against the “Gikan Sa Masa, Para Sa Masa” October 10 episode where Duterte aired a death threat against ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro.
The board said it also received another complaint about an alleged death threat and profane language by a guest on the same show on Nov. 15.
The MTRCB said it issued a warning to SMNI that similar incidents will be dealt with more sternly. The TV network committed to pre-record and review episodes before airing.
The program “Laban Kasama ang Bayan” was also brought to the attention of the MTRCB after Celiz claimed on-air that House Speaker Martin Romualdez spent 1.8 billion for travels this year. The host admitted in a House hearing that the information from his Senate source was unverified.
It is interesting then seeing the way members of the Dutertard community are now throwing monumental tantrums over the actions taken by the MTRCB against SMNI. Perhaps people need to first step back, take a deep breath, and get a grip. On the basis of mere perceptions alone, it is evident that SMNI is not being run like anything resembling a professional news media organisation. To be fair to others like Rappler and ABS-CBN News, those two went to great lengths to craft exquisite veneers of legitimacy and at least pretend they were taking a balanced approach to delivering “journalism” to the Filipino people. Rappler even went as far as campaigning aggressively for the Nobel “Peace Prize” that its CEO Maria Ressa proudly sports today.
What are the next steps for the Dutertard community seeing that facts don’t seem to get in the way of their persistent cult-like loyalty to the media arm of the Duterte clan? Perhaps it will do them well to learn from the “plight” of ABS-CBN when it failed to secure renewal of its franchise to broadcast and, following that, mounted a campaign to paint itself as some sort of “victim”, incite disruptive street rallies (to the extent of putting participants at risk of COVID infection), and tap its pool of indentured “talent” to mobilise their fantard communities to back their “cause”.
All that did not work despite the mightiest honchos of the Yellowtard-Communist Axis backing the embattled conglomerate. The fact is, SMNI does not have even a fraction of the manufactured legitimacy and engineered institutional backing enjoyed by ABS-CBN and Rappler in the times both played the “victim”. As always, pana-panahon lang yan. The Philippines lacks a professional civil service and its regulators act more on the behest of the powers-that-be than on any bases that upholds the public interest. The short of it is that those who can’t at least keep their nose clean in the best of times better learn to play the game well in the worst of times.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.