A group of cinema owners has filed a lawsuit against the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) over a recent memorandum circular the council issued that imposes new guidelines on film screenings in the Philippines.
In its court filings to the Quezon City Regional Trial Court dated July 5, the Cinema Exhibitors Association of the Philippines (CEAC) argues that the FDCP has no legal authority to regulate the operations of movie theaters, and that its mandate is limited to determining tax incentives for newly released local films based on their artistic and technical merits.
“By issuing the MC, Respondent has exceeded its authority and has acted beyond its mandate,” CEAC says in its filing. “The MC, therefore, constitutes unauthorized administrative legislation, which is invalid and unlawful.”
The group also claims that there were no agreements made between them and the FDCP during the three consultative meetings that they had before the MC was issued.
CEAC sent a letter to to FDCP chair Liza Diño on May 2 saying that although the group understands the good intentions behind the MC, it still goes beyond the council’s legal mandate. The MC was still passed despite CEAC’s objection.
As of press time, the council and Diño have not commented on the suit.
FDCP, which is a film development body under the Office of the President, has issued Memorandum Circular No. 2019-01, titled “Policies and Guidelines on the Theatrical Release of Films in Philippine Cinemas” on June 25, which took effect last July 10.
The guidelines state that newly-released films will premiere on Fridays, instead of Wednesdays and Saturdays. It also imposes a seven-day “minimum run-length” period for locally produced films, and prohibits “screen splitting” of new releases for the first three days of their run.
The MC also pegs the price of movie tickets for students at ₱200 in Metro Manila and ₱150 in the provinces during Wednesdays.