MMDA failed to remit P11M to MMFF beneficiaries

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The executive committee of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) has failed to remit more than P11 million to bene–ficiaries from 2010 to 2012, according to the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) that filed a supplemental petition before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 217 on Friday.

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Through their lawyer Antonio Inton, the FAP said the disputed amount was on top of the alleged P82 million that the MMFF failed to remit to beneficiaries from 2002 to 2008, which is covered by their original petition.

Lawyer Mary Claire Hernandez, counsel for the MMFF executive commit–tee, said they have  yet to receive a copy of the supplemental petition.

Inton said they filed the supplemental petition following the statements of Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Francis Tolentino, who said he was not the head of the agency from 2002 to 2008.

The MMDA chairman also chairs the MMFF executive committee.

Citing preliminary inquiry and available records, Inton said some P11.2 million were not remitted to beneficiaries from 2010 to 2012.

He alleged that the amusement tax collected from the MMFF in 2010 amounted to P15.73 million but only P11.2 million was released to identified beneficiaries.

It also showed that only P11 million of the P12.27 million was released from the 2011 MMFF proceeds, while only P11 million of the P16.41 million was released from the 2012 proceeds.

“The same is likewise rendered essential in order to stress that the amount covered by the report of the Commission on Audit (COA) is not an isolated situation,” read the supplemental petition.

“Tolentino must be made answerable and accountable, in his official capacity, not only for the acts committed by or during the tenure of his predecessors but also for the acts committed during his own tenure,” it added.

The earlier petition for mandamus only covered the COA report that audited the funds from 2002 to 2008, when executive committee was still headed by former MMDA chairman Bayani Fernando.

The audit report showed that the MMFF executive committee only released to the identified beneficiaries P130.4 million of the total proceeds of P216.6 million, thus leaving a balance of P82.8 million of amusement tax proceeds from the said years.

The FAP asked the Quezon City Regional Trial Court to order the release of the unremitted funds.

In an earlier statement, MMFF executive committee spokesperson Marichu Maceda maintained that all the funds of the MMFF, particularly the amusement tax collec- tions, are intact and accounted for and     have  . . . been properly distributed to its intended beneficiaries.

“The MMFF execom is mandated to allocate and remit to the designated beneficiaries the net proceeds of the amusement taxes after deducting all operational and incidental expenses of the MMFF. This is being complied with religiously every year,” Maceda said.

In its motion filed through Hernandez, the MMFF executive committee earlier asked the Quezon City court to dismiss the case as “it is well settled that injury to rights” based on Article 1146 of Civil Code prescribe after four years.

It added that deduction of expenses of the festival—such as for awards, incentives, and prizes—are authorized by the rules and
regulations of the executive order that created the MMFF.

“In this case, petitioner, despite knowledge of the said Rules and Regulations, did not submit its ‘question or inquiry’ relating to the rule as regards the deduction of expenses from the MMFF fund,” read the motion.

Hernandez also told the court that the MMFF executive committee also sent a letter in 2009 to the COA detailing its response to the audit report. A copy of the said response has yet to be released.

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