Movie Industry Grateful to Lawmakers

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Excessive taxes have always been the problem of the movie industry for a long time now. It’s a fact that among the filmmaking countries of the world, it’s the Philippine film industry that’s been saddled with heavy taxes, so heavy that the industry has suffered a slump that has displaced movie workers.But with the amusement taxes being reduced slowly as a result of our lawmakers’ efforts to help the entertainment industry revive itself, movie denizens now see a glimmer of hope. “We are grateful to all the lawmakers who supported the bill that will significantly help the movie industry. Because of the reduction in the amusement tax, producers will be encouraged to produce more films and will consequently result in more jobs for members of the entertainment industry,” says Orly Ilacad, president of the Philippine Motion Pictures Producers Association (PMPPA).Local movies continue to be a source of pride and entertainment for Filipinos. Locally produced films have consistently gotten the nod of various international award-giving bodies, while watching movies remains among the top choices of entertainment among the Filipinos. Despite these however, the number of local movies continue to decline, year after year.“In the 1990s, an average of 160 films were produced annually. However, in the year 2000, only 80 films were produced. It dipped further in 2007 where only 47 films were produced. With this bill, we are confident that the number of locally-produced films will increase significantly,” shares Ilacad.“Nowadays, with only a meager percentage of earnings left to producers, producing films not only becomes unprofitable but more so, impractical,” Ilacad adds.To arrest the slide, the movie industry has tirelessly lobbied for the passage of a bill that will save the industry and the roughly 300,000 people that it employs.The industry's efforts did not go unrewarded. On Jan. 26, 2009, House Bill 5624 (HB 5624) was passed on 3rd reading by the House of Representatives. HB 5624 will reduce the amusement tax on local films from 30 percent to not more than 10 percent. The passage of the bill was made possible through the efforts of several lawmakers headed by Speaker Prospero Nograles, Reps. Rufus Rodriguez, Roilo Golez, Irwin Tieng, Al Francis Bichara, Mikey Arroyo, George Arnaiz, chairman of the Committee on Local Government, Exequiel Javier, chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means and Arthur Defensor Sr., chairman, Committee on Rules. The Senate version of the bill, which was unanimously passed on third reading last June 11, 2008, was authored by Senators Manny Villar, Loren Legarda, Chiz Escudero, Bong Revilla and Noynoy Aquino.With the tax reduction, the industry will be relieved from the burden of paying redundant taxes, which has, for the longest time, been one of the major factors why the number of locally-produced films continue to decline.With tough competition from foreign films and the high cost of production, not to mention the unending fight versus piracy, the movie industry needs all the help it can get to keep itself afloat. The bill is certainly a welcome help, one that the industry will always be grateful for.Local celebs join forces with the Asian Poker TourThe celebrity participants of the recently concluded Asian Poker Tour Celebrity Charity Challenge staged a reunion of sorts at the Dusit Thani Manila Hotel. This time, however, they were joined by their respective charities as they formally handed over the cheques they won during the tournament.Hosted by the Asian Poker Tour, the Charity Challenge was presented by Ray-Ban, FHM and JBET Poker and was attended by a who’s who in Philippine showbiz industry. Among those present at the cheque handover ceremony were Troy Montero, Aubrey Miles, Drew Arellano, Bianca Gonzales, Shai Bermudez-Hizon, Lara Morena, Gary Lising, Erik Mana, and of course, the Celebrity Charity Challenge champions, the Playgirls. …