‘Kalimutan ang kulay?’ Pinoys remember Roque’s past remarks vs ABS-CBN amid SMNI probe

December 1, 2023 - 5:25 PM
A photo of Harry Roque at a press briefing on Sept. 6, 2021 (Harry Roque/Facebook)

Harry Roque‘s remarks against ABS-CBN surfaced after he called on media practitioners to stand with a controversial media network.

In a video report on November 30, Roque said that the franchise of Davao-based Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) might be revoked due to supposed threats to press freedom.

“Muli, sa ating mga kasamahan sa media, meron nanamang banta sa karapatan ng malayang pamamahayag sa pamamagitan ng pananakot na baka ma-revoke ang prangkisa ng SMNI,” he said.

“Itong kalayaang po ng mga mamahayag ay isa pong importanteng kalayaan para po magkaron ng demokrasya dahil kinakailangan pangalagaan natin ang malayang merkado ng idea na nakakatulong sa pagbubuo ng paninindigan ng ating mga kababayan,” he also said.

Roque went on further to request media practitioners to set politics aside and rally behind SMNI instead.

“Kalimutan natin ang kulay dahil kahit tayo ay pula, berde o itim, pag kalayaan po ang pinag uusapan, dapat sama-sama ang lahat ng mga mamahayag,” he said.

Harry Roque calls on media practitioners to “stand with SMNI.”
byu/magnificatcher_99 inPhilippines

— Inquirer (@inquirerdotnet) November 30, 2023

SMNI is owned by Apollo Quiboloy, who is on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s most-wanted list in the United States for his alleged role in a labor and sex trafficking scheme.

RELATED: ‘Invite the FBI,’ says social media ahead of Quiboloy network presidential debate 

The House Committee on Legislative Franchises was earlier directed to investigate SMNI over the alleged spread of fake news in its platform.

This came after one of its hosts alleged that House Speaker Martin Romualdez incurred a hefty P1.8 billion in travel expenses.

RELATED: SMNI flagged for allowing non-KBP accredited broadcasters to go on air 

Recalling Roque’s remarks

Several Filipinos reminded Roque about his remarks against the franchise of another media network, ABS-CBN.

An X user named Pari Koy brought up a video of a Uniteam BBM-Sara campaign rally wherein the former presidential spokesperson joked about the broadcast giant’s expired franchise.

This event was reported on national television during the campaign season in 2022.

“Ate Ai, hindi ka nagkamali ng sinamahang grupo. Hindi mawawala ang iyong prangkisa,” Roque quipped in the video.

Another X user also brought up Roque’s interview with Willie Revillame where the former was perceived to mock ABS-CBN’s shutdown.

Here, the former government official was a guest in an episode of GMA Network’s “Wowowin” segment in May 2020. This episode was also aired days after the beleaguered network went off the air on May 5 of that year.

“Sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon, ikaw lang ang napapanood sa buong bands. Alam mo, duda ko, kaya ‘yung isa nawalan ng prangkisa, ikaw may kagagawan niyan e. Oh, aminin, aminin,” Roque quipped to Revillame.

RELATED: Why Harry Roque’s joke on ABS-CBN shutdown in ‘Wowowin’ guesting was deemed problematic | Willie Revillame’s reaction to Roque’s ABS-CBN closure joke resurfaces amid ‘set aside politics’ remark

In a press briefing in October 2021, Roque also denied claims that there is media censorship in the Philippines.

“No one has ever been censored in the Philippines. You cannot blame Congress for not renewing the franchise of ABS-CBN because that is one of their powers. That is not an order emanating from the Executive nor is it a matter within the jurisdiction of the Executive,” he said back then. 

Several Filipinos, meanwhile, slammed Roque for using “press freedom” on his call for backup. They pointed out how the Quiboloy-run network became a platform for red-tagging and propaganda.

“SMNI is NOT a news media outlet. It’s just a clown of a platform for propagandists to fool people. Revoke its franchise and give to a legit, professional and unbiased journalism network!” an X user said.

House to probe SMNI

Quezon 2nd District Rep. David Suarez earlier urged the House leadership to investigate the SMNI over allegedly spreading fake news against Romualdez.

Suarez expressed this move for a probe during his privilege speech to his colleagues.

“In the spirit of transparency and accountability, I humbly request this august chamber to direct the committee on legislative franchises, in the exercise of its inherent oversight function, to investigate this matter immediately and other similar measures pending with the committee, including this personal and collective privilege,” he said.

READ: SMNI faces House franchise panel probe 

Deputy Speaker Yasser Alonto Balindong later approved this motion after no lawmakers present had objected to it.