Senators bat for more gov’t support for ailing PH film industry

Senator Jose ‘’Jinggoy’’ Ejercito Estrada, during Tuesday’s plenary session November 8, 2022, raised issues “plaguing the barely surviving” film industry in the country.

Only nine local movies have been released out of 20 Filipino films reviewed by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) since January this year, Estrada said in today’s regular session.

Estrada, himself a movie actor, said that the audio visual services sector, which comprised of 760,000 workforce is nowadays "on the verge of collapse even during the pre-pandemic period.”

To help the ailing industry, the senator said the government should consider removing the amusement tax from ticket sales, which would also help film producers recover from losses.

Aside from government subsidy, Estrada said “the government should encourage the promotion of Filipino culture/cuisine, tourism and heritage as part of the content; create or provide scholarships, workshops for scriptwriters, production personnel, musicians to strive for excellence in this field/industry; and provide tax breaks or lower taxes on the industry to incentivize the local entertainment industry.

Senator Grace Poe, daughter of the late movie action king Fernando Poe Jr., supported Estrada's call on the government to provide more incentives for the local film industry.

Poe said she filed Senate Bill 867, or the Philippine Film and Television Tourism Act of 2022, to promote the Philippines through video or the cinema screen.

She said providing incentives to the local entertainment industry would provide more jobs for the country’s talents who are hard pressed due to the pandemic.

“Not only will it provide jobs but it will also promote the industry. One film showcasing the beauty of the Philippines, that’s millions of dollars that we save on advertising. I hope that we pass the Philippine Film and Television Tourism Act,” Poe added.

Senator Francis “Tol” N. Tolentino also urged his colleagues to support the local film industry by passing a bill that would revive the entertainment industry.

“I agree that there is a need to overhaul existing subsidies being given to the local film industry and not just through a short film festival. Perhaps the good chairperson of the Mass Media Committee can craft a bill that would overhaul and enhance the local movie industry,” he said.

Tolentino pointed out that other countries provide incentives to their film production outfits.

For instance, he said, Columbia provides a 60 percent cash rebate while Fiji provides a 50 percent cash rebate

France, on the other hand, gives a 30 percent tax rebate of qualified expenditures for international productions and Canada grants from 30 to 70 percent cash tax rebate for their movie industry.

Tolentino said he is supporting the advocacies of Estrada who urged the government to lend its full support to the local film industry.