Officials of the Commission on Audit clarified to Film Academy of the Philippines Director-General Leo G. Martinez that the commission’s findings regarding the audit of the Metro Manila Film Festival amusement tax refunds in 2002 to 2008 still stand and had not been refuted.
The audit findings revealed that the MMDA did not turn over P82 million of the amusement tax rebate to the beneficiaries which included the Academy, the MOWELFUND, the Motion Picture Anti-Film Piracy Council, the Film Development Council of the Philippines and the Optical Media Board.
The Academy had sought a meeting with the COA to seek clarification which took place last Monday, March 10 at the third floor of the COA building.
Present during the meeting were COA Director Yolanda N. Umali, NGS Cluster 6; Atty. Gloria G. Calvario, supervisor of the team that made the audit for 2002 to 2008; and Ms. Victoria P. Jabat, audit team leader for the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority. Martinez attended the meeting, accompanied by Director William Mayo, member of the board of governors as president of the Philippine Motion Picture Director’s Association.
Martinez told the COA officials that MMDA officials had been giving media interviews alleging that the COA findings on the 2002-2008 audit of the Metro Filmfest amusement tax rebates had been fully explained and thus refuted.
He explained that the MMDA officials or spokesmen pointed to a revision of the Rules and Regulation for Mainstream Film Entries of the MMFF that justified the MMDA’s action.
The insertion of Section 2 Non-Tax Revenue to Rule X (Sources of Fund) of the Rules and Regulations provides: “Non-tax revenues are revenues derived from sponsorships, registration fees, advertising, awards night income, waived or forfeited incentives, interest and other miscellaneous income.
“All amusement taxes, other non-tax revenue fees received shall form part of the MMFF Fund, and shall be released to the designated beneficiaries after deducting all the operations and incidental expenses of the MMFF, including: honoraria and per diem given to MMFF staff and members of the Festival Committees; incentives to producers; and prizes given to the Festival Awardees. The disbursement of this Fund shall be subject to the usual auditing rules.”
During the meeting, Martinez also requested that a similar audit be undertaken on the MMFF amusement tax funds for the years 2009 to 2013. He also requested that a COA representative be appointed to the forthcoming committee hearing of the House of Representatives on this matter.
The COA arranged the meeting based on a letter (dated January 22, 2014) of Martinez requesting for an appointment with COA Chairperson Maria Gracia M. Pulido Tan.
Meanwhile, the Academy and four other beneficiaries received the first tranche of their share of the amusement tax rebate during last year’s Metropolitan Manila Film Festival during the launching of the 40th Metro Filmfest at Club Filipino on Wednesday, March 5.
An appreciation dinner for last year’s filmfest was also held which featured the giving of cash awards to the 2013 filmfest winners.
This comes under the shadow of a complaint by the Academy that the share of the beneficiaries was short of P82 million for the period 2002 to 2008 according to the Commission on Audit. The Academy has sought an explanation from the MMDA about this but the two agencies have not yet started a dialogue.
The Academy received a check for P1 million which was an amount bigger than the previous first tranches given since 2006.
The first tranche amounts were as follows: 2006, P800,000; 2007, P400,000; 2008, P400,000; 2009, P350,000; 2010, P600.000; 2011, P400,000; and 2012, P400,000.