February 22, 2024

The citing in contempt by the House of Representatives of two block-timers of SMNI television should serve as an example to the public that merely being given the chance to speak in various media platforms is no license to spread false and misleading information.
The investigation by the Committee on Legislative Franchises about SMNI’s peddling of false information should have been done earlier – even when the person involved in the misinformation campaign is not as prominent and as “powerful” as House Speaker Martin Romualdez.
At a time when falsehoods spread faster than fact, it should have been incumbent upon the committee to have initiated a probe about the dealings of said TV program hosts and the media entity itself, without necessarily infringing on its rights as a franchise holder.
On the surface, the committee’s initiative has at least taught SMNI’s program hosts Lorraine Badoy and Jeffrey Celiz that being commentators still require them to verify information and not broadcast information based on conjectures alone.
What’s worse is these people project themselves as journalists when as the matter of fact, they are nothing more than mouthpieces ready to spew anything told them – sans verification and empathy – principles and standards that only real journalists practice.
When asked to name their sources on the expenditure incurred by the Speaker for his overseas trips, they invoked the Sotto Law – the same law that protects journalists from naming their sources.
But invoking this law should not be done haphazardly and must not be used as shield for failing to verify information. Along with the law that protects journalists is the responsibility to report facts.
This is not the first time SMNI and some of its talents have been called out for their irresponsible commentaries, yet it is only when a prominent name has been mentioned that officials suddenly launched their investigation.
The eagerness the House committee showed when the Speaker was implicated should be the same with other people who have been needlessly dragged into controversy such as the two journalists in Baguio whom they insinuated as having ties with the underground movement and which alarmed not just their colleagues in the profession but their families as well.
May the investigation by the committee truly bring about meaningful legislation and not benefit just a few personalities who happen to know which strings to pull.