MMFF controversy still continues

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  • mmfAS A RESULT of the disqualification of Erik Matti’s “Honor Thy Father” in the best picture category of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), members of the fest’s executive committee (execom) got embroiled in a controversy that led to two congressional hearings.

    The producer of “Hon- or Thy Father,” Dondon Monteverde, earlier called for the resignation of at least two execom members—Dominic Du and Marichu Maceda—whom he blames for his film’s disqualification. In the first hearing, lawmakers asked Du if he was the distributor of the two films (“#Walang Forever” and “Buy Now, Die Later”) that benefited from the disqualification. Du denied the allegation.

    Execom members are stakeholders who are “either directly or indirectly involved with the movie MMFF controversy still continues industry.”

    According to actress and execom member Boots Anson-Roa, her MMFF committee comembers are: producers Maceda and Jesse Ejercito, distributor Du, filmmaker Mark Meily, Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista, Sen. Grace Poe, Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) Chair Toto Villareal, Christiana Caparas of SM Cinemas, Marcus Ng of Metro Manila Theaters Association, Tito Cruz of the Bureau of Broadcast Services, Mio Chiongson of the advertising industry, Wilson Tieng of Solar Entertainment, Jag Garcia of DLSU-College of Saint Benilde and Rowena ReyesCapulong of Far Eastern University.

    Noemi Ilagan, ex- ecutive director of the MMFF secretariat, said the MMDA—or the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, which spearheads the MMFF—was no longer represented in the execom.

    At a congressional hearing on the issue last Jan. 13, Roa testified that she had suggested in an MMFF honorspecial committee meeting that she and her fellow execom committee members should tender their courtesy resignation “in November, long before the awards brouhaha” broke out.

    “Our resignation was procedural, to give the new MMDA chair (Emerson Carlos) a free hand in organizing the execom,” Roa told the Inquirer. “But the MMFF was just around the corner, and execom members couldn’t leave midstream.

    The execom members’ courtesy resignation was soon overtaken by events—particularly, the intrigues that resulted from the disqualification of “Honor Thy Father.”

    Roa clarified that since the current execom members’ term ended on Dec. 31, “we are considered resigned already.”

    “Per rules and prac- tice, execom members’ tenure expires on the last day of every year, subject to renewal or nonrenewal,” she pointed out.

    However, Monteverde said, “some of the execom members have been there for a long time”—that is, even before the term of President Aquino.

    Roa joined the ex- ecom in her capacity as head of the Movie Workers’ Welfare Foundation (Mowelfund), one of the MMFF’s beneficiaries.

    Roa also explained that the technical working group (TWG) that was proposed in the Jan. 13 hearing would be under the Congress.

    “It will be composed of lawmakers, industry stakeholders and experts, like MTRCB Chair Villareal,” said Monteverde. “The TWG will abolish all current committees within the present MMFF setup. It will also review all the rules and amend those that are no longer relevant. It will study the composition of the next execom, including the term limits of its members.”

    Monteverde recalled that during the first hearing, juror Carmen Musngi (a retired teacher and board member of the MTRCB) revealed that two execom members (Du and Maceda) informed the MMFF jury about the disqualification of “Honor Thy Father” on Dec. 21, when the case was only decided by the execom on Dec. 26.

    Asked to comment on the congressional hearing, Maceda (spokesperson for the MMFF execom) said the execom would meet on the matter before issuing a statement.

    • – B.San Diego Je, Inq.

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