A correspondent from BBC News called out the Sonshine Media Network, Inc. (SMNI), the newsgroup owned by church leader and alleged sex trafficker Apollo Quiboloy, for featuring their footage without permission in a trailer shown during the network’s presidential debate on Tuesday.
The footage in question? Shots of the Scarborough Shoal, located 220 kilometers west of the Zambales province, and falls within the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) — and part of the territories contested by China in accordance with their disputed nine-dash line, which the United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) ruled as having no legal basis in arbitration proceedings.
BBC News’ Howard Johnson, a Philippine correspondent, posted a portion of the trailer that featured the unauthorized footage, shown during a presidential debate. In an ironic turn of events, the clips were shown alongside the following broadcast text, translated in English: “[SMNI] has a strong stand on what’s right. We will not betray the people. And we will not be exchanged for anything. Honest and not a thief.”
LOOK: BBC News footage from Scarborough Shoal appeared in an SMNI trailer last night with the words: “[SMNI] has a strong stand on what’s right. We will not betray the People. And we will not be exchanged for anything. Honest and not a thief.” pic.twitter.com/4ezFSmhNQm— Howard Johnson 🇵🇭 (@Howardrjohnson) February 16, 2022
The journalist followed up his tweet with another, where he called attention to the plight of Filipino fishermen facing intimidation at Scarborough Shoal.
The most important thing for me is raising awareness of the plight of Filipino fishermen at Scarborough Shoal. You can see the film on the link below. Notice the first shot and the one at 0’51: https://t.co/J83hg3hW5e pic.twitter.com/8uM4PEDaCK— Howard Johnson 🇵🇭 (@Howardrjohnson) February 16, 2022
In a statement to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Johnson confirmed that “Neither the BBC News team in Manila nor London were approached for permission,” adding that the footage was not made available on Getty, a website where other media organizations can use clips under license.
Only former senator Bongbong Marcos and labor leader Leody de Guzman attended the SMNI-hosted presidential debates, with major contenders such as Vice President Leni Robredo, Senators Manny Pacquiao and Ping Lacson, and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno declining the invitation.
“I cannot, in good conscience, be part of any activity organized by a man wanted for detestable crimes and who unconscionably used the name of the Lord in vain for religious scams,” Pacquiao said of his decision to skip the SMNI debate.
Quiboloy, founder of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ church, is wanted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation after he was indicted on cash smuggling and sex trafficking charges, where he allegedly forced victims as young as 12 to have sex with him.
READ: The FBI released a ‘Wanted’ poster for church pastor, Duterte ‘spiritual adviser’ Apollo Quiboloy
The pastor has also styled himself as President Rodrigo Duterte’s spiritual adviser, and has publicly supported the Bongbong Marcos-Sara Duterte tandem in the upcoming May elections.
READ: Bongbong Marcos skips CNN debate, confirms attendance at debate with Quiboloy-owned network
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