Don’t pull that plug

By Marinel Cruz
Published on D1 June 21, 2007 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

Don’t pull the plug on the comatose Philippine film industry.

This was the battle cry of representatives from four major industry stakeholders that convened yesterday to formulate a “development plan” for the “survival” of the movie industry.

Top officials of the Independent Film Cooperative, Film Academy of the Philippines, Directors’ Guild of the Philippines and Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng Pelikulang Pilipino signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that would formulate an industry “road map.”

A press briefing was held at the Newsdesk Café in Quezon City, organized by the Fair Trade Alliance (FTA), a broad multi-sectoral coalition of formal and informal labor, industry, agriculture, nongovernment organizations and youth “pushing for trade and economic reforms.”

“The road map or development plan will contain guidelines on what the stakeholders and the government should do to help improve the movie industry,” explained FTA Secretariat Catherine Manzano.

Manzano added that the convention focused on the reduction of amusement taxes, conditions that spelled out the need for road-mapping and a report on the series of stakeholders’ meetings that began in February 2007.

How it started

A research group—to be headed by the FTA Secretariat—will be formed to gather data for the road map. The Film Institute of the University of the Philippines will participate in data collection, Manzano added.

“The initiative began early this year when the FAP approached us for assistance,” Manzano told Inquirer Entertainment in a phone interview on Tuesday. “The FTA focuses on campaigns on trade and economy. Since the film industry contributes to national economy, we decided to heed the FAP’s call.”

She added that, in the stakeholders’ previous meetings, two problems were identified: Lack of funding support and lack of governance and direction.

“Upon closer analysis, it becomes evident that the industry’s problem is more than just the lack of technology or the inability of local films to catch up with global trends,” Manzano noted. “The industry’s problems are heightened by taxes. The government is raking in more than it bargained for from an industry it doesn’t even consider as one.”

Manzano pointed out that tax collected from movies are designed to upgrade equipment, conduct training and implement programs aimed at developing the industry and its workers. It is also meant to ensure the welfare of movie workers.

“There is a need to reassess policies governing the film industry, and develop an industry plan aimed at sustaining its growth,” Manzano stressed.

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