MMFF funds taxpayers’ money, Atienza insists

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BUHAY party-list Rep. Lito Atienza disagreed with and corrected Chairman Emerson Carlos of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) for stating that Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) funds are mere donations from local government units, implying that the funds are not taxpayers’ money and not subject to audit.

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“I refuse to accept the definition of the amusement tax given by Chairman Carlos. On the contrary, the income of the MMFF comes from the share of the local government units [that]they give up in favor of the festival. Donated as it is, these are public funds. There is no way that this taxpayers’ money, in the form of amusement taxes, can be considered private funds, as per the distorted view of Chairman Carlos,” Atienza said during the hearing of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development.

He added that this reminds him of the DAP and PDAF public funds, which were misused and eventually declared illegal by the Supreme Court.

The DAP refers to the Disbursement Acceleration Program and PDAF to lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund.

“We are asking for an immediate congressional investigation [of]the MMFF funds for the past 5 years. The MMDA has a lot of explaining to do. This reminds me of the DAP and PDAF where public funds were abused and misused, instead of being used for their original purpose. This controversial decision to disqualify the film “Honor Thy Father” has also distorted the true intention of the festival—which is to showcase the creativity and talent of Filipino filmmakers. The festival is now obviously ruled by commercialization and profit. Unless they have proof that the money benefited the directors, actors and members of the film industry, they are in violation of the rules,” Atienza pointed out.

The festival’s precursor, the Manila Film Festival, was established in 1966 with the original intention to help boost the local film industry.

The Metropolitan Manila Film Festival, which started in 1975, has now become a nationwide affair.

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