The Facebook page of Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), the media arm of controversial pastor Apollo Quiboloy’s church, was taken down in mid-September, not on Nov. 25 as SMNI lawyer Mark Tolentino recently claimed.
Multiple publications, including CNN Philippines, Sunstar Philippines and Rappler reported that SMNI’s Facebook page became unavailable on the morning of Sept. 15 when accessed through its link, facebook.com/SMNINews.
The page has not been reactivated.
Tolentino, however, told a hearing of the House committee on legislative franchises on Nov. 30:
The entire Facebook page of SMNI is terminated by Facebook, Mr. Chair…We cannot open now the SMNI page since Saturday in Facebook. (2:07:04 to 2:08:07 mark)
The House is probing SMNI after its news anchor, Eric Celiz, said the travel expenses of Speaker Martin Romualdez amounted to about P1.8 billion, a claim lawmakers say is false.
When pressed about why a video on X (formerly Twitter) containing Cruz’s claim was deleted, Tolentino said the news channel’s account is linked to its Facebook page that has been recently taken down.
As of press time, there have been five saved snapshots of SMNI’s Facebook page in the Internet Archive since its unavailability on Sept. 15, but none of them direct to changes or possible reactivation of the page.
The page also remains unavailable when accessed through its original link or the QR code provided in the current header of the news channel in its account on X.
A month before the suspension, the parent technology firm Meta also took down Quiboloy’s personal Facebook and Instagram accounts due to violations concerning “dangerous organizations and individuals.”
The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation included Quiboloy in its most wanted list in relation to alleged labor and sex trafficking schemes.
Meanwhile, SMNI remains active on X with around 91,000 followers.
The live broadcast of the committee hearing on Facebook has garnered more than 18,000 views, 3,000 comments and 200 shares. (KC)