November 29, 2023 Jester P. Manalastas 97 views

MALICIOUS and fake.”

This is how Deputy Majority Leader and Quezon Rep. Jayjay Suarez described the reports made by Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) alleging that Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez has P1.8 billion travel funds.

Suarez delivered a privilege speech to which he also conveyed the statement of House Secretary General Reginald Velasco “categorically denying the allegations.”

According to the House leaders this false and baseless accusation is intended to spread disinformation and defame the Speaker’s character.

“We categorically deny these false allegations and condemn in the strongest terms the propagation of such irresponsible and damaging news. This is a deliberate attack on the integrity of the House and a sad reflection to to the lengths some individuals will go to undermine our democratic institutions,” the statement read.

Because of this, the House Committee on Legislative Franchises will conduct a hearing on November 30 to look into SMNI’s alleged practice of spreading fake news.

Lawmakers asked the committee to launch an investigation and to exercise its inherent oversight function to investigate the network owned by controversial televangelist Apollo Quiboloy, who is reportedly wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) due to sexual harassment case.

Administration allies are demanding immediate retraction and apology from those spreading fake lies.

“Furthermore, we are exploring other options to hold accountable those responsible for this smear campaign. Our focus remains steadfast in serving this nation and we will not be deterred by such underhanded tactics,” the statement added.

Suarez added that Filipinos do not deserve to live in a world full of fake news that is why such practice should be cut.

“All of us are victims of fake news. And if we don’t stand up, rise, and be heard, how will they know what the truth really is?” he also said.

The solon asked the SMNI if it had taken steps to validate the report.

“Did they even care to ask? Did they even care to find out what really is the truth with regards to this matter? He ashed “we are all publiv officials and we are all open to criticisms and public opinion and unfortunately, open to fake news,” he asked.

Meanwhile, Suarez challenged the radio-TV network owned by Quiboloy to prove its claim that Speaker. Romualdez has spent P1.8 billion for travel.

Suarez asked chairman of the committee Parañaque Rep. Gus Tambunting to invite not only the broadcaster who made the claim on SMNI but the broadcasting station’s owner-franchise holder himself.

“I think it would be [a] prudent decision of the committee to invite the host. And I even, impose this challenge on them. Name your source, kasi ako, may dokumento akong hawak na nagsasabi kung magkano talaga ang ginastos ng House at ng Speaker sa kanilang travel. Dun sa sinasabi niyo P1.8 billion, kaya gusto kong malaman kung saan nanggaling,” Suarez said in an interview.

“O ‘yun po ba ay numero lang na hinugot niyo sa buwan at binaggit sa telebisyon? Dahil base sa mga dokumento at papeles na hawak po namin, hindi po ‘yun ang katotohanan,” he said.

Suarez pointed out that he would like SMNI and its broadcaster to prove their claim before he could check it with his documents.

“Show me your documents. Show me your data. Inform us who your source is and I will compare it to mine and there we will find out what the real truth is with regard to this issue,” he added.

He stressed that both the Quiboloy network and its program host are accountable for the travel fund claim.

“Well, I feel that the network and the host are both accountable. Kasi unang-una, pinalabas po ito sa show nila. Pangalawa, as journalists, responsable sila, dapat bago nila maglabas ng kung anomang news article o news report, it has to be validated. I mean I’m sure all of you members of media do the same. Especially when it comes to figures and data we consider to be of national concern,” the lawmaker said.