House to hold last MMFF probe hearing

Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - January 28, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The House committee on Metro Manila development will hold its third and last hearing on alleged Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) irregularities on Wednesday.

“This will be our closure hearing. We want a closure on these anomalies,” Laguna Rep. Dan Fernandez told the Usaping Balita forum at the Serye restaurant in Quezon City yesterday.

It was his resolution that prompted the MMFF inquiry by the committee chaired by Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo. He also sits in the investigating committee.

 “We will focus on Wednesday on the earnings of the film fest, which in December reportedly hit P1 billion. We want to know where MMFF income last year and in previous years went,” Fernandez said.

He said the MMFF has two sources of funds: the amusement tax, which local government units in Metro Manila waive during the festival, and the increase in theater ticket prices for MMFF films shown in the provinces.

“The amusement tax, which amounts to about P500 million, is turned over to the Metro Manila Development Authority, which manages the film festival. Collections from the increase in ticket prices, which could run to more than P500 million, are remitted to a private company,” he said.

Fernandez vowed to expose the private firm on Wednesday.

“It is the MMFF that imposes the ticket price increase, which is P10 to P20 per ticket. I don’t know what legal authority they have to collect the increase, which takes the form of a tax and which should not go to private pockets,” he added.

Fernandez said the Castelo committee has invited movie house owners in the provinces so they could be asked how much they have collected and to whom or which company they turned over the collections.

During their last hearing, Fernandez said the committee requested the Commission on Audit to examine the film festival’s earnings.

 “It’s big money that should be going to industry workers and other stakeholders,” he said.

Rep. Lito Atienza of party-list group Buhay, another committee member, said they intend to draft a law that would “reform the film festival.”

“It should be managed by the industry, not by the government and vested interests,” he said.

He said he, Castelo, Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas and other committee members would push for the approval of their proposed MMFF reform law if they are reelected in May.

ACIRC ALFRED VARGAS CASTELO COMMITTEE DAN FERNANDEZ FERNANDEZ LAGUNA REP LITO ATIENZA METRO MANILA METRO MANILA DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY QUEZON CITY REP
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