Court of Appeals Rejects SMNI’s Petition to Stop Suspension Order

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The Court of Appeals (CA) has recently dismissed the petition filed by Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) to halt the 30-day suspension order issued by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). The NTC imposed the suspension due to alleged violations of SMNI’s franchise terms.

In a 5-page resolution promulgated on January 4, but only made public on Sunday, the 14th Division of the CA rejected the petition for certiorari and mandamus filed by Swara Sug Media Corp, also known as SMNI. The court dismissed the petition primarily because SMNI failed to file a motion for reconsideration before the NTC prior to filing the petition for certiorari, prohibition, and mandamus.

The CA emphasized that SMNI should have exhausted all available legal remedies before resorting to a petition. According to the court, SMNI must first demonstrate that they have no other “plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law,” as stipulated in the Rules of Court.

The court stated, “Petitioners may not arrogate to themselves the determination of whether a motion for reconsideration is necessary or not.” It further pointed out that the NTC was not given an opportunity to rectify any potential errors or address the accusations of grave abuse of discretion made by SMNI.

The failure to file a motion for reconsideration before filing the present petition was deemed a fatal flaw by the CA. SMNI’s petition argued that the NTC violated the constitution by ordering the suspension based on a resolution from the House of Representatives.

The suspension order was a result of House Resolution 1499, which claimed that SMNI had violated provisions of its franchise, specifically Section 4, which prohibits the network from using its facilities to propagate false information.

The allegations made by SMNI hosts Lorraine Badoy and Jeffrey Celiz against Speaker Martin Romualdez, claiming that he spent P1.8 billion on foreign travel between January and October of last year, led to the issuance of the suspension order.

This recent decision by the Court of Appeals highlights the importance of following proper legal procedures and exhausting available remedies before seeking extraordinary relief. SMNI’s failure to file a motion for reconsideration undermined their petition, resulting in its dismissal.

It is essential to respect the legal process and allow regulatory bodies, such as the NTC, the opportunity to address any perceived errors or abuses. By adhering to established procedures, parties involved can ensure a fair and just resolution to their disputes.

As this case unfolds, it serves as a reminder of the significance of upholding the rule of law and the importance of responsible journalism. Broadcast media organizations, like SMNI, have a duty to uphold the truth and provide accurate information to the public.

While the outcome of this case may be disappointing for SMNI, it underscores the need for compliance with franchise terms and regulations. Adhering to these guidelines ensures that media organizations operate within the bounds of the law and maintain the trust of their audience.

In conclusion, the Court of Appeals’ dismissal of SMNI’s petition to stop the suspension order emphasizes the importance of following proper legal procedures. It highlights the need for media organizations to comply with franchise terms and regulations while upholding the truth and providing accurate information to the public.

Source: The Manila Times

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