Bill seeks to counter decline of PH movie, music industry

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

TWO senators have expressed belief that government should push for growth in film tourism to showcase the Philippines' sights and culture.

Senators Grace Poe and Juan Edgardo Angara said that it is high time the country gives importance to its own talents both in the film and music industry.

Poe said there should be a department whose sole purpose is to oversee international movie or TV productions shot in the Philippines.


Poe said she will file a bill that will seek to promote the country as a primary shooting destination for local and international films.

"We have so many good and nice places in our own country. Numerous places that we can show to the world. Plus the fact that our Filipino talent is really beyond compare. We have to focus on what we have and what we can give," Poe said.

Poe, the daughter of late actor Fernando Poe Jr., was a former chairperson of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB).

Poe said the film and music industry must be given the right support by the government. This will contribute a lot in our economy if only the government will take it seriously, she added.

Angara, for his part, filed a bill that seeks to promote the country's film tourism by providing tax incentives to production companies, both foreign and local.

"Film tourism is a growing phenomenon wherein a destination is visited by tourists because it was featured in a movie, television or video. An interest in the nation and its positive image can eventually lead to an actual visit to the country," said Angara. "Thus, there is a need to promote the Philippines as a destination for filmmakers."

The neophyte senator, vice chair of the Senate committee on tourism, cited New Zealand's tourism industry as an example wherein New Zealand's international visitor arrivals jumped to 2.4 million in 2006 from 1.7 million in 2000 after the filming of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and the "Hobbit" on location there.

In Scotland, the William Wallace Monument got a 300-percent increase in visitors when actor and director Mel Gibson released "Braveheart," the lawmaker also disclosed.

Angara's Senate Bill 2160 or the "Fostering Investment through Local and International Movies (Film) Act" aims to attract filmmakers by providing incentives to film production companies primarily through tax credits ranging from 20 to 40 percent under a point-based incentive system.

Under the proposed measure, eligible productions may receive 20 points if the final product is set completely or largely within the Philippines, or if at least half of filming within the Philippines occurs in a community recovering from a significant natural disaster.

"By boosting the country's film tourism, the Philippines stands to increase the number of tourist arrivals and stimulate its economy. A dollar spent by a tourist for accommodations is multiplied 2.1 times for the economy as it creates jobs and opportunities and spreads its effect in other industries as well," said Angara, author of the Tourism Act when he was still a congressman.

Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and United Kingdom also offer incentive schemes to garner a market share in the international film industry.

Aside from tax credits, SB 2160 also provides additional incentives such as exemptions from all fees for or associated with filming permits, free access to public lands, free police protection, free and expedited work visas, and a designated liaison.

The Film Development Council of the Philippines will be tasked to expand its one-stop shop system dedicated to promote the film tourism program and serve filmmakers who intend to avail of the incentives under the bill.

Angara lamented that even the Philippines' own local film industry "has been begging attention."

According to the National Statistical Coordination Board, from 1960 to 1999, the Philippines produced an average of about 140 movies each year. However, from 2000 to 2009, local film output fell to an average of 73 annually.

The chair of the Senate committee on ways and means noted that Filipino movie industry leaders have blamed high taxes on tickets and a general lack of government support for their sector's plight.

"Recognizing the potential of international and local motion picture production to create jobs, grow the economy, and raise the nation's international profile, offering production tax incentives and providing additional benefits are necessary steps we ought to take to seize this new opportunity as levers for growth and development," Angara said. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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