MANILA - Follow the Commission on Audit (COA).
This was the stern message given by actor Leo Martinez to Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Francis Tolentino moments after filing a case against the official on Wednesday.
According to Martinez, director general of the Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP), the MMDA owes the film industry P82 million in amusement taxes.
"Ang sabi ng Commission on Audit from 2002 to 2008, kulang ang binigay nila sa beneficiaries by P82 million," he said.
Aside from the alleged mishandling of funds, the FAP is also seeking a freeze order on the amusement taxes from the recently concluded Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), which reportedly earned a record-breaking P934 million in 12 days.
"We're asking for two things. Unang una, huwag muna i-remit ng theater owners 'yung amusement tax sa film festival dahil may question tayo doon kasi nga nababawasan. Number two, sundin nila 'yung sinasabi ng COA na huwag gagalawin 'yung amusement tax," demanded Martinez.
The MMDA is the organizer of the annual MMFF.
Martinez explained that, as stated by law, the amusement taxes from the MMFF should remain untouched other than by the intended beneficiaries.
Martinez admitted that he had no choice but to file a case since he has yet to receive a direct reply from Tolentino following the accusations.
"Claim niya noon ako lang ang nag-iingay, pwes hindi na ito ingay, let's go to the due process. Huag mo naman kaming dedmahin. Sundin niyo lang ang COA, huwag niyong babawasan. Mahalaga dito accounting ng pera na dapat mapunta sa industriya, beneficiaries," said Martinez.
Aside from the FAP, the Movie Workers Welfare Foundation, Inc, the Motion Picture Anti-Film Piracy Council, Optical Media Board and the Film Development Council of the Philippines were named as the beneficiaries for this year's MMFF.
Martinez added that despite the overwhelming support by the Filipinos for the annual film festival, based on the rising box-office gross, the beneficiaries has been receiving less and less.
"Pataas ng pataas ang gross. Dati kinikita namin 10 to 19 percent, ngayon 1 percent na lang. Parang spaghetti pataas at pababa pero ito sa amin pababa ng pababa!" quipped Martinez.
Martinez reiterated that the MMFF should be for the benefit of the local film industry, as he reminded Tolentino that without them, there would be no MMFF.
"Hindi po ito para sa producers at theater owners, dapat laging kasama ang workers, yan ang laging nakakalimutan. Walang beneficiaries, walang MMFF!" he said.
MMDA's Tolentino earlier responded to the allegations by insisting that the right amount was being handed out to the beneficiaries.