Press Release
January 24, 2017


Sen. Grace Poe today said legislation is necessary to strengthen and revitalize the local movie industry and that she is ready to defend the bill in an effort to level the playing field for both mainstream and independent films.

Poe, chairperson of the Senate committee on public information and mass media, said an enabling law that would institute reforms in the largest and highest-earning film festival in the country, the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), and turn it into a national film festival for all types of films covering all genres, both mainstream and indie.

"Kailangang patuloy ang paggawa ng batas na makakatulong talaga sa industriya kasi ngayon wala namang batas ang MMFF. Kaya minsan, yung parte na nakukuha ng mga benepisyaryo katulad ng Mowelfund o ng MO Film academy, paliit nang paliit," said Poe, who spearheaded a hearing on Senate Resolution No. 257 filed by Senate Majority Leader Tito Sotto.

"Pagdating sa working conditions ng mga artista at ng mga kasama sa paggawa ng pelikula [isasama rin natin iyan kasi] marami talagang contractual sa industriya kasi hindi naman consistent ang paggawa ng pelikula. Pero dapat kasama pa rin ang kanilang kalusugan, ang kanilang kaligtasan sa ating binabantayan," the senator added.

Poe said she will constitute a technical working group and invite stakeholders to craft a measure that will consider the welfare and the rights of workers in the industry.

The MMFF, first called the Metropolitan Film Festival, was created in 1975 by virtue of Proclamation No. 1459 "in recognition of the value and importance of the local movie industry in the overall developmental effort for the country, a fitting celebration to encourage quality film production both in substance and in form, as well as provide incentives to the performing artists and the technicians in the industry."

Part of the proceeds from the MMFF go to the Movie Workers' Welfare Fund, a foundation established in 1974 to provide aid to movie workers, Film Development Council of the Philippines, Film Academy of the Philippines, Motion Picture Anti-Piracy Council and the Optical Media Board.

During the hearing, beneficiary organizations lamented the dwindling shares from the proceeds of the MMFF, which was reduced to a mere 1 percent since 2009 from an earlier 11-19 percent. The MMFF selection committee and filmmakers, in defending the selection of the "Magic 8" indie films in the December MMFF, said some theatres were able to pull out participating and non-commercially viable films even during the duration of the MMFF.

Poe said a mere presidential proclamation is not enough and the MMFF rules are not binding, thus the current predicament.

Poe said this would be addressed in the bill, adding that her committee will closely work with Sotto in drafting the proposed Philippine National Film Promotion Act.

"Let's also not forget that the public has the right to choose what they want to watch. We should also take into consideration what is the true appeal to the public of movies of Vic Sotto and Vice Ganda. 'Wag nating kalimutan na may mga bata ring bahagi ng Pasko," said Poe.

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