Quezon City court declares FDCP film screening rules "constitutionally invalid"

by Rachelle Siazon
Nov 19, 2021
Quezon City Court FDCP Memorandum Circular invalid
An excerpt from Judge Edgar Dalmacio Santos's decision on cinema owners' complaint versus FDCP: "Nowhere is it provided therein that the FDCP shall also regulate the exhibition or showing of the films made by the producers as the mandate of the law is limited to the production of quality films for commercial purposes."

Hindi pinayagan ng Quezon City Regional Trial Court na ipatupad ang film screening rules na binuo ng Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), na pinamumunuan ni Chairperson Liza Diño-Seguerra.

Kaugnay ito ng Memorandum Circular No. 2019-01 ng FDCP, na may titulong "POLICIES AND GUIDELINES ON THE THEATRICAL RELEASE OF FILMS ON PHILIPPINE CINEMAS."

Nailathala iyon sa isang major broadsheet noong June 25, 2019.

Kabilang sa rules na nakapaloob sa FDCP Memorandum Circular ang “guaranteed” three-day screening period para sa bawat pelikula at seven-day “minimum run-length” ng Filipino films sa lahat ng mga sinehan.

Ipinagbabawal ang screen-splitting sa first three days ng screening ng pelikula.

May guideline din ang FDCP na recommended ticket price para sa mga kabataan— PHP200 para sa Metro Manila cinemas at PHP150 sa mga probinsiya kada Miyerkules para maeengganyo ang mga ito na manood ng sine.

Nakasaad sa FDCP Memorandum Circular na dapat ay may "equitable ratio" ang foreign at local films na pinapalabas sa mga sinehan maliban na lamang kung mayroong Filipino-films-only festival tulad ng Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino at Metro Manila Film Festival.

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Pero mariin itong tinutulan ng asosasyon ng mga negosyanteng nagmamay-ari ng mga sinehan sa bansa, o mas kilala bilang Cinema Exhibitors Association of the Philippines, Inc. (CEAP).

Cinema owners COMPLAINT VS FDCP

Noong July 18, 2019, inireklamo ng CEAP ang FDCP memo na iyon.

Nanindigan ang CEAP na hindi saklaw ng FDCP ang pag-regulate ng "business operations and decisions" ng cinema owners at exhibitors.

Base sa Republic Act 9167, na siyang batas na nagbuo sa FDCP, ipinunto ng CEAP na limitado ang kapangyarihan ng ahensya sa promotion at pag-engganyo sa filmmakers na gumawa ng mga dekalidad na pelikula na maipagmamalaki sa loob at labas ng bansa.

Isinumite rin ng CEAP ang Congressional Records nang pinag-uusapan pa lang sa Kamara noong May 2002 ang tungkol sa mandato ng FDCP.

Nabanggit doon na, "...the Film Development Council is laid on the basis of artistic and technical merits as well as the value of cinema and social and cultural transformation."

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Wala raw sa usapan na may kakayahan ang FDCP na mag-regulate ng cinema exhibitors o theater owners.

Nagsumite ng counter-affidavit ang FDCP noong September 2019.

Nanindigan ang FDCP na saklaw nito ang "pre-production of local films to their public exhibition in both domestic and foreign markets."

Tingin din ng FDCP, maaaring gumawa at magpatupad ng rules and regulations ang ahensya dahil mayroon itong "power of subordinate legislation," base sa probisyon ng Section 15 at 19 ng RA 9167.

Ibinigay nitong sampol ang probisyon sa Section 15 ng RA 9167 na maaaring magpataw ng "administrative fines and penalties" ang FDCP.

Pero mayroon ding nakasaad na ang enforcement ng penalty ay may kinalaman sa Section 14 ng RA 9167 na tungkol lamang sa "Amusement Tax Deduction and Remittances" ng cinema exhibitors o theater owners.

COURT DECISION: FDCP NO POWER TO REGULATE FILM SCREENINGS

Pinaboran ng Quezon City Regional Trial Court ang reklamo ng CEAP.

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Nakadetalye sa 12-page resolution ni Judge Edgar Dalmacio Santos ang petisyon ng CEAP pati na ang sagot ng FDCP.

May petsa itong July 28, 2021.

Ayon kay Judge Santos, tanging ang legislative branch ng gobyerno ang may kapasidad na gumawa at magpatupad ng batas.

Kaya raw "no legal force and effect" ang pagbuo ng implementing rules and regulations, "under the guise of subordinate legislation" ng isang administrative agency sa ilalim ng executive branch ng gobyerno tulad ng FDCP.

Idiniin ng korte na walang anumang probisyon ng R.A. 9167 na magpapakitang saklaw ng FDCP ang regulation ng film screenings ng cinema exhibitors.

Paliwanag ni Judge Santos: "Now, a simple and textual review of the powers and functions of the FDCP under Sec. 3, R.A. 9167 taken in conjuction with the statement of the policy therein would readily show that said law seeks to promote and encourage the production of local quality films to uphold and lift the dignity and nobility of the human spirit so to speak and not to regulate their exhibition...

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"Nowhere is it provided therein that the FDCP shall also regulate the exhibition or showing of the films made by the producers as the mandate of the law is limited to the production of quality films for commercial purposes."

Idiniin din ng korte na hiwalay na proseso ang film production at film exhibition.

Paliwanag ni Judge Santos: "For, film exhibition or showing cannot become a constituent component of film production as until and unless a film is made and completed by the producer or director there is nothing to show or exhibit to the public.

"Thus, it cannot be said therefore that the exhibition of film is necessarily implied from film production as to furnish a basis for saying that film exhibition is included in film production...

"This Court cannot fathom as to how the production of films would encompass their exhibition in theaters."

Kaya hindi umubra ang katuwiran ng FDCP na saklaw nito ang paggawa at pagpatupad ng rules and regulations sa cinema exhibitors.

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"In other words, in the absence of a provision in RA 9167, express or implied that FDCP can supervise much less regulate the exhibition of films, this Court is not persuaded to subscribe to the claim of FDCP that it enacted the MC as a valid excerise of subordinate legislation," dagdag ni Judge Santos.

"REGULATION DOES NOT MEAN SUPPRESSION OR ABSOLUTE PROHIBITION"

Ipinaliwanag din ni Judge Santos na bagamat maganda at kahanga-hanga ang intensiyon ng FDCP Memo para protektahan ang local films, "the end doesn't justify the means."

Sa huli, sinabi ni Judge Santos na ang pag-regulate ay hindi dapat mangahulugang panggigipit sa kahit anumang negosyo.

"This notwithstanding, the regulatory power of the State does not authorize the destruction of the business.

"While a business may be regulated, such regulation must be within the bounds of reason, i.e., the regulatory ordinance must be reasonable, and its provision cannot be oppressive amounting to an arbitrary interference with the business or calling subject of regulation.

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"A lawful business or calling may not, under the guise of regulation, be unreasonably interfered with even by the exercise of police power.

"After all, regulation only signifies control or restraint, it does not mean suppression or absolute prohibition."

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An excerpt from Judge Edgar Dalmacio Santos's decision on cinema owners' complaint versus FDCP: "Nowhere is it provided therein that the FDCP shall also regulate the exhibition or showing of the films made by the producers as the mandate of the law is limited to the production of quality films for commercial purposes."
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