Press Release
January 24, 2017

Transcript of Sen. Grace Poe's opening statement
Public Hearing of the Committee on Public Information and Mass Media

Good morning. Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat. The hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, will now come to order.

The committee's main concern in today's hearing is Senate Resolution No. 257 filed by Senator Sotto, Recommending the Metro Manila Development Authority to Establish a Film Festival Exclusively for Independent Films During the Long Semestral Break.

The Metro Manila Film Festival has been a source of controversy for several years now--wala yatang lumipas na MMFF year na walang controversy, so hindi naman kakiba ito, kaya nga siguro panahon na para lagyan natin ng mas maayos na kasunduan para hindi ito maulit taun-taon--from previous allegations that filmfest beneficiaries were not receiving their fair share of revenue, MMFF funds allegedly drying up, and now, to the current allegations involving the selection of films. The beneficiary organizations had complained of diminishing shares from proceeds from the highest earning film festival in the country, because they use the funds to support thousands of behind-the-camera workers in the industry.

For the information of our guests and audience who are unaware of the history of the MMFF, it has its origins in Proclamation No. 1459, s. 1975 and was previously held in September to promote the "achievements of the New Society," propaganda pa yata ito noon, and to encourage quality film production both in substance and in form. Later, it was institutionalized to be shown annually during the Christmas season to ensure the "support and patronage of the movie-going public".

By virtue of Presidential Decree No. 1647, the management of the MMFF was transferred to the Metro Manila Commission, which is now known as the MMDA.

Despite the change in administrations, the government recognized the need to continue having a yearly film fest. Executive Order No. 86-09, issued in 1986, recognized the MMFF as "celebrated annually to promote and enhance the preservation, growth, and development of the local film films are a potent force in the formation of society's value system which can be utilized to effectively fight social ills, such as prostitution, drug addiction, criminality, and the like."

E.O No. 86-09 also directs the donation of Amusement Tax collected by city and municipal mayors to the Metro Manila Film Festival Executive Committee as trustee pending identification of beneficiaries. These beneficiaries have changed throughout the years, pero hindi po nawawala ang Mowelfund o ang Movie Workers Welfare Foundation, which is a non-stock, non-profit social welfare, educational and industry development foundation that supports the welfare of movie industry workers. Mowelfund provides financial support to almost 4,500 members and hold intensive filmmaking workshops to help aspiring young Filipino filmmakers hone their talents.

The MMFF therefore has a two-fold purpose: 1.) to promote, enhance, and develop the local film industry; and 2.) to generate income to support workers in the industry and develop local talent in film and the arts. Thus, part of the MMFF's proceeds has also been allocated to the Film Academy of the Philippines and Film Development Council of the Philippines. MMFF also funds anti-film piracy campaigns, with a portion of its proceeds going to the Motion Picture Anti-Film Piracy Council and the Optical Media Board.

The MMFF has been held annually for 42 years now. We are holding this hearing, because we want to know how we can further support the local film industry. What we have now is a hiccup, this has survived for 42 years. Perhaps by capacitating independent filmmakers, raising the quality of so-called commercially viable films, and rallying the support of the public behind these films.

Naalala ko dati, maraming bold films ang pinapalabas sa sinehan kasi ito raw ang commercially viable, pero noong ipinagbawal ang paglabas ng bold films sa mga sinehan, nagkaroon ng pagbabago sa panlasa ng mga Pilipino. So sino ba ang nagdidikta kung ano ba ang dapat tangkilikin ng publiko? Hindi ko sinasabing dapat by force tanggalin lahat ng sinasabi nilang pangmasa na pelikula. Mga pelikula ni FPJ, halimbawa, na pangmasa sapagkat iniintindi nya ano ang gusto ng manonood pero may mapupulot kang aral at talagang pinaghirapan, namuhunan para hindi naman magmukang pito-pitong pelikula lamang.

Movies are also a means to escape reality and immerse yourself in a different world. I know and understand that there are a lot of factors involved, and we all want what is best for the film industry, after all, I consider you family, I am from the industry as well.

Tingin ko dapat ibalanse ang pagkakaroon ng good quality films at ang pagiging commercially viable nito. We have to still ensure na kikita ang pelikulang Pilipino lalo na at may pinatutunguhan ang kinikita nito sa MMFF. Kaya nga nagkaroon ng MMFF kasi minsn di na tayo makapag-compete sa Hollywood films noon.

Lastly, we should also pay homage to the craft of film producers, directors, writers, actors, and several nameless people who were tirelessly involved in the development, production and distribution of motion pictures and who helped put where these are now--whether these are highly budgeted films or indie films. Hindi po ba't lubos na nakakahanga at tunay na maipagmamalaki rin na may nakukuhang karangalan ang ating mga pelikula sa ibang bansa. Pero pinakamalaking karangalan ay ang pagtataguyod ng ating mismong mga kababayan. Pag sila ang nanonood, pag sila ang pumapalakpak, pag sila ang nagdadala ng kanilang pamilya, minsan sa sandaling dalawang oras na yun, nakakalimutan nila ang problema ngunit may aral silang napupulot. Yun ang tagumpay ng pelikulang Pilipino.

Having said this, we shall now commence our public hearing.

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