THE HOUSE of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to revoke on Wednesday the congressional franchise of Swara Sug Media Corporation which operates broadcast station, Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI).

In a 284-4-4 vote, congressmen approved House Bill (HB) No. 9710, repealing Republic Act No. 11422 which renewed the franchise for SMNI to operate for an additional 25 years.

“The approval of this measure is important so that the SMNI would be stopped from spreading disinformation,” Party-list Rep. Arlene D. Brosas said, explaining her affirmative vote on the measure before the House plenary.

House lawmakers revoked SMNI’s franchise after it allegedly spread false information, which violates Section 4 of its franchise on prohibiting the “dissemination of deliberately false information or willful misrepresentation.”

SMNI also allegedly breached Sections 10, 11, and 12, relating to the sale of the company to other entities without informing Congress; failure to offer at least 30% of its stocks to Filipinos, and failure to submit an annual operations report before the government, respectively

Lawmakers started to scrutinize SMNI after it reported that Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez had spent P1.8 billion on travel expenses last year — a claim that House officials later clarified to amount only to P4.3 million.

During its investigation, the House franchises committee cited televangelist Apollo C. Quiboloy in contempt for thrice snubbing the House panel hearings on SMNI, in which he serves as the honorary chairman of the board.

Meanwhile, an opposition party said on Wednesday that the Senate’s arrest order against Mr. Quiboloy exemplifies the august body’s commitment to ensure that no individual is above the law.

“The issuance of an arrest order underscores our commitment to a legal system that is blind to power and privilege,” Liberal Party (LP) spokesperson and former senator Leila M. de Lima said in a statement.

She also said the Department of Justice’s (DoJ) filing of criminal charges against the televangelist, who is wanted for sex trafficking, was a “crucial step” to ensuring justice and accountability.

DoJ spokesman Jose Dominic F. Clavano IV said sexual abuse and child abuse charges, as well as human trafficking have been filed against Mr. Quiboloy in Davao and Pasig City courts.

The Senate had issued an arrest order on Tuesday against him for his continuous refusal to face a congressional probe into accusations against him.

“This reinforces the principle that everyone, regardless of background or faith, is subject to the rule of law,” Ms. De Lima said. “A functioning judiciary is essential for a strong democracy and a just society.”

For his part, Senator Ronald M. dela Rosa told a news briefing on Wednesday that he would ensure Mr. Quiboloy’s safety if he still feared for his safety in facing the Senate. — Kenneth Christiane L. Basilio and John Victor D. Ordoñez