SMNI Requests NTC Officials to Recuse Themselves from Presiding Over Case

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MANILA, Philippines: Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) has taken legal action by filing a motion to prevent Commissioner Ella Blanca Lopez and her two deputies from presiding over the National Telecommunications Commission’s (NTC) case against the media company.

SMNI’s lawyers, Rolex Suplico and Mark Tolentino, have raised concerns about the fairness of the proceedings. They argue that the show cause order issued by the NTC suffers from a significant flaw. The NTC, they point out, is not only the judge but also the complainant and the executioner in this case. This situation is highly undesirable and goes against the principles of an impartial judicial system.

“The NTC will never be an independent and impartial tribunal because it is itself the complainant in its own court. How can SMNI expect justice in this kind of setup? It is naturally expected that the decision of the NTC will always be in favor of the complainant, which is also itself,” the lawyers stated.

To ensure a fair and unbiased process, SMNI has requested an additional 15 days, until January 20, to file a responsive pleading while the NTC is considering the network’s motion to inhibit.

This legal action follows the NTC’s issuance of a show cause order in December, which included a 30-day suspension order against SMNI for alleged franchise violations.

The Manila Times reached out to the NTC for comment on SMNI’s motion, but as of now, there has been no response.

It is crucial to understand the implications of this legal battle within the context of the Philippines’ media landscape. The NTC, as the regulatory body for telecommunications and broadcasting, plays a significant role in overseeing media companies’ compliance with licensing and franchise requirements.

The show cause order issued by the NTC indicates that they have identified alleged violations by SMNI regarding its franchise. While the specific details of these violations are not mentioned in the current report, it is essential to recognize that a suspension order can have severe consequences for a media company, potentially impacting its ability to operate and disseminate information.

SMNI’s decision to file a motion to inhibit the commissioners overseeing the case highlights their concerns about the fairness and impartiality of the proceedings. By questioning the NTC’s role as both judge and complainant, SMNI’s lawyers are raising valid points about the potential bias inherent in this arrangement.

The outcome of this legal battle will have broader implications for media companies operating in the Philippines. It will set a precedent for how the NTC handles franchise violations and will determine the level of trust and confidence media organizations can place in the regulatory body.

As this case unfolds, it is crucial for the NTC to address the concerns raised by SMNI and ensure that the proceedings are fair, transparent, and in line with the principles of justice. A transparent and impartial process is essential not only for the parties involved but also for the public’s trust in the regulatory system.

In conclusion, SMNI’s motion to inhibit the NTC commissioners overseeing their case sheds light on the potential biases within the current system. It is essential for the NTC to carefully consider SMNI’s concerns and ensure a fair and impartial process. The outcome of this legal battle will have far-reaching implications for media companies in the Philippines and will shape the future of regulatory oversight in the industry.

Source: The Manila Times

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