The Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) maintained Thursday that it does not seek to take from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority the hosting of the annual Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF).
“Until this moment, hindi nila gustong kunin ang MMFF (they do want to take over the MMFF),” Senator Risa Hontiveros quoted FDCP officials as saying during the Senate’s 2021 budget debates.
Hontiveros, Senate finance committee vice chairperson, sponsors the FDCP’s P202.4-million proposed budget.
To recall, the MMDA last July removed FDCP head Liza Diño from the MMFF executive committee for supposedly lobbying for the transfer of the management of the MMFF to her agency.
Diño did not deny this, saying in a radio interview then that it was only “rational” the FDCP be in charge of the MMFF. She said, however, that they were stopped from pursuing this in 2017.
In his interpellation on the FDCP budget, Senate President Vicente Sotto III again brought this up as he questioned the agency’s reason for updating last May 28 the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Republic Act No. 9167, years after its enactment.
The law, signed in 2002, created the FDCP and defined its mandate.
Citing information from his source in Malacañang, Sotto said the FDCP sought the opinion of Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on the possibility of revising the law’s IRR in a bid to take over the MMFF.
“Merong bubwit na nagbigay ng message dito sa amin na FDCP ang humingi ng sulat kay Sal talaga at iniisip nila talagang dagdagan ang powers because gusto nilang kunin ‘yong Metro Manila Film Festival, para masakop nila, iyon daw ang dahilan. (A source gave us a message that the FDCP wrote to Panelo because they were thinking to expand their powers since they wanted to get the MMFF, so they could take over, that was their reason),” Sotto said.
“Bubwit na lang ito pero taga-Malacañang ‘yong bubwit, kaya ‘wag na nating kontrahin. (This source came from Malacañang, so let’s not negate it),” he continued.
The FDCP confirmed asking Panelo’s opinion about the IRR revision, but insisted that the MMFF was not the reason. Hontiveros said the council also cited as a reason a Supreme Court decision regarding the grant of amusement tax rewards to Filipino producers which was declared unconstitutional by the high court.
Sotto, however, said the new IRR included a provision granting the FDCP the authority to set “standards and guidelines for distribution and exhibition of films in the country.”
A principal author and sponsor of RA 9167, he said this was not included in the powers provided by the law.
He recalled the Senate’s discussion on the IRRs that exceed provisions of Congress-approved laws.
The senators shared the belief that the MMFF should remain with the MMDA.
“Once you do that, you remove it from the hands of the mayors, I assure you, you do not have a film festival. Subukan mong alisin sa mga mayor yan, ilagay mo sa ibang agency, o sa FDCP, ubos ka. (Try taking it from the mayors, place it in other agencies, or the FDCP, you’re done). Hindi papayag mga mayor (The mayors will not agree),” Sotto said.
Sen. Francis “Tol” Tolentino, former MMDA chairman, agreed with Sotto, saying such event needs “political support” to succeed.
“And to have that political support, you have to have mayors themselves involved, not just for purposes of monitoring the ticket sales…but for purposes of ensuring that the revenue generated would go the real beneficiaries which would include among others, the Mowelfund (Movie Workers Welfare Foundation) and other beneficiaries,” he said.
“At this point in time, we need not rock the boat. It has been there,” he added.
“Indeed, the MMFF, which I enjoyed for many years with my children, should remain with the MMDA and our local chief executives,” Hontiveros also said.