House panel to wrap up film fest probe
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - January 16, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Members of the House of Representatives investigating the alleged misuse of funds and other controversies surrounding last year’s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) will initiate the drafting of a bill seeking to institute reforms in the film industry.

Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo, who chairs the committee on Metro Manila development, and Laguna Rep. Dan Fernandez said the panel would soon wrap up its inquiry into the MMFF controversies to be able to finalize the film industry reform bill.

Castelo said one of the bills pending in the lower chamber was authored by actor-turned Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas.

“We aim to come up with a consolidated bill,” Castelo said.

The investigation was prompted by Fernandez’s resolution following the disqualification of the film Honor Thy Father from the Best Picture category in the 2015 MMFF awards.

Actor John Lloyd Cruz, who co-produced Honor Thy Father, expressed hope that the congressional inquiry would lead to reforms in the local film industry.

“This is not just show business. What’s happening here is important. And in this (legislative) process, many are confused, hurt, angry, maybe exasperated and saddened over what was happening,” Cruz told the House panel.

He expressed hope that when the MMFF selects entries for the next film festival by June, there will be solid reforms so that the festival will be a source of inspiration instead of embarrassment.

Cruz urged members of the film industry to submit proposals to Congress, which will enact laws to strengthen the sector.

The inquiry into the disqualification of Honor Thy Father led to the discovery of apparent misuse of MMFF funds that its organizers claimed should not be subject to scrutiny by the Commission on Audit.

The MMFF is funded by amusement tax not collected by local government units for the duration of the festival from December to January.

Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza urged the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct an investigation on the alleged irregularities in the handling of over P500 million in amusement taxes collected by the MMFF organizers.           

ACIRC ACTOR JOHN LLOYD CRUZ ALFRED VARGAS BEST PICTURE CASTELO CRUZ DAN FERNANDEZ FILM HONOR THY FATHER NBSP QUEZON CITY REP
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