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FIRING LINE: ’Twas time to free Badoy, Celiz

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

In the spirit of the Christmas season, a time when compassion and forgiveness should permeate our hearts, Firing Line reflects on the recent events surrounding SMNI program hosts Jeffrey Celiz and Lorraine Badoy. While I maintain reservations about the credibility of their hunger strike and the quality of their reporting in media, the House Committee on Legislative Franchises’ decision to release them on humanitarian grounds is commendable.

Last Tuesday, the House already responded firmly to the alleged misinformation spread by SMNI by proposing the suspension of its franchise — a significant step in holding media accountable. Charging Badoy and Celiz in court could be another valid option. 

The demand for disclosure during a congressional hearing raises valid concerns. Still, we must tread carefully not to undermine the essence of press freedom — something Celiz and Badoy purportedly stood for or perhaps used as an excuse for a lack of media competence.

Nevertheless, I did feel that in the spirit of decency and compassion, our lawmakers were capable of setting Celiz and Badoy free to be with their families in this blessed season. True enough, the panel’s closed-door meeting led to the decision to release them on humanitarian grounds, considering their apologies for their behavior.

Their release, as voted unanimously by the panel chaired by Parañaque City 2nd District Rep. Gus Tambunting, should not be perceived as a compromise of accountability. Instead, it is an acknowledgment that even those accused should have room for leniency beyond fairness and a just process, especially in this season of love and forgiveness.

 Let it be emphasized, though, that the release order has no connection to the writ of habeas corpus filed by their spouses, questioning their detention. Cong. Tambunting clarified that they may summon Celiz and Badoy in future hearings on the SMNI issue, maintaining their commitment to accountability.

Keep Quiboloy or give him away

Evangelist Apollo C. Quiboloy, who sees himself as the “appointed son of God” and leader of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC) sect, is done with his twisted sense of fun under the protection of his spiritual advisee, former president Rody Duterte.

Facing a damning litany of accusations, Quiboloy is being called to a Senate investigation to answer for alleged moral and sexual offenses. Last Tuesday, Sen. Risa Hontiveros asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to issue an immigration lookout bulletin order (ILBO) to prevent the pastor from fleeing the country.

Quiboloy’s sect, once a sanctuary, now stands accused of human trafficking, rape, and child abuse. This modern-day horror story within the realm of his power makes Quiboloy a candidate for escape.

It’s only fitting that authorities make sure that he remains here in the country to be held accountable or, perhaps, allow him a one-way ticket to the United States, which is three steps ahead of our government in prosecuting him for very vicious crimes pieced together by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View via X app (formerly Twitter). Read current and past issues of this column at http://www.thephilbiznews.com

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