“One good thing that came out of this issue is that it has paved the way for the discussion on the matters concerning the Philippine entertainment industry. Our ailing film industry needs all the support not only from the government but more so from the movie-going public,” Estrada said.
Last month, Estrada admitted that banning foreign shows crossed his mind due to its effects on Filipino viewers. The statement drew flak on social media.
“For the past several weeks, I have been subjected to numerous tirades over a comment I made during the hearing on the proposed 2023 budget of the Film Development Council of the Philippines or FDCP last October 18… Sadly, my statements were magnified and even misconstrued by many, including a number of industry members,” said the senator.
“What reverberated in the minds of many was the furthest thing from my mind. I was portrayed as a villain, an antagonist,” he added.
During his speech, Estrada noted that for this year, only 9 local movies have been released, citing information from theater group operators.
“Nakapanlulumong isipin na may panahon na umaabot sa 300 ang napo-produce na pelikula kada taon. Now, it’s not even a fraction,” he lamented.
(It’s devastating to think there was a time that around 300 movies were produced a year.)
Estrada said that producing a “quality film” requires “between P10 to P30 million, according to FDCP chairperson and CEO Tirso Cruz III.”
“And to recoup this, they have to earn at least triple or 270 percent. But how can an industry barely in survival mode and among the most heavily taxed entertainment in Asia, recover from its current state?” Estrada said.
Estrada said that the government could consider foregoing amusement tax, value-added tax and distribution fee in favor of the producers.
“Naniniwala ako na hindi malaking kawalan ito sa kita ng gobyerno. Sakali man na tanggalin ito, maaari natin ito na mabawi dahil kung mapapasigla natin ang entertainment industry, lalaki ang labor force at lalago ang industriya na maaaring mapagkunan ng mga tinatawag na recoupment tax,” he said.
(I believe this will not be a big loss for government. If these are removed, we could recover this if we boost our entertainment industry, the labor force will grow and could yield so-called recoupment tax.)
Estrada also proposed a subsidy program and other perks for the film industry.
“It’s probably high time for the government to consider the idea of providing government subsidy to film industry just like what the investments made by the South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism,” Estrada said.
“The government could probably consider institutionalizing or replicating the programs of the Movie Workers Foundation, Inc. or MOWELFUND. The MOWELFUND, the only one of its kind in Asia provides social welfare program for movie workers and a development program to uplift the movie industry,” he added.
Other senators backed Estrada’s proposals.
“Suportado ko ang pahayag ni Sen. Estrada dahil ramdam ko bilang artista ang kaniyang pagmamalasakit na muling buhayin ang pelikulang Pilipino at malaking-malaki ang tsansa nating magawa ito,” said Revilla.
(I support the statement of Sen. Estrada because as an artist,I feel his desire to revive Filipino movies and there is a very big chance we could do this.)
“Ang hinihingi po namin sana ay magkaroon po ng suspension ng mga tax na ito. Ang dami po naming tax na binabayaran. May amusement tax, puno, lahat po na klaseng tax nandoon na. Sana po dumating ang punto na kami po ay mabigyan ng industriya na makahinga lang,” Sen. Robin Padilla said.
(We are asking for a suspension of these taxes. There are so many taxes. I hope the industry could be given time to breathe.)
“I also would like to say that a lot of the workers in the film industry are really hard-pressed now because of the pandemic that happened,” Sen. Grace Poe said. -Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News