Is this still a whiff? Bato and Diño, FDCP and tax rebates

It was bad enough that Bato dela Rosa had the gall to have a film made about his life — after all, it was under his leadership at the PNP that we saw THOUSANDS of Filipinos killed in a bloody drug war that he insisted was necessary because his god … este, his President believed it to be so. Of course a film that is blatantly propaganda via hagiography is nothing new. Neither is the admission that this film is about getting him a Senate seat. Let’s not even get into whether or not he has the credibility and credentials for it (and no, Jimmy Bondoc, insisting Bato’s loyalty to the President is enough is just idiotic, also: anti-nation).

Let’s just talk about the fact that he is already an administration candidate, which means that he already has the benefit of using government resources for his campaign. And then he makes a film about his life, which he need not declare as a campaign expense, even when he himself admits it’s supposed to help him win the elections. Imagine? It’s like getting campaign ads aired without having to declare it as part of your campaign. It’s getting away with spending millions on your campaign without having to declare any of it. 

But it gets worse. Enter Liza Diño’s Film Development Council of the Philippines

Two days ago a screen cap of a letter purportedly from the FDCP’s Cinema Evaluation Board (CEB) started going around in private messages. It was with regards the Bato movie, claiming that it was recipient of the  government incentive program for 2019, and was getting a 100% rebate. Without a letterhead and signatory though, it became questionable information and could not be confirmed.

Later in the day it was revealed though that the CEB did give a B rating to the film. It was the only time we realized that FDCP was giving this campaign film a 65% tax rebate.

So this film, which is technically campaign material pretending to be a film, campaign material which Bato will not have to declare as campaign expense, campaign material that can take the place of TV ads (I bet you, they will pirate the film and distribute it themselves), is now campaign material that even gets a tax rebate for its time in cinemas.

Imagine? It need not be declared as campaign expense, and it will even earn from extra for having been in cinemas at all! 

Napaka-suwerte naman! Napaka-corrupt rin.

To begin with the FDCP-CEB should not even have considered this as a film worth rating. After all, it is not a film as much as it is using the medium of film to campaign for a candidate. To have even considered it as a film worthy of a rating hits at CEB’s credibility — who is in control of this evaluation board? Who makes these decisions? Even just the lack of transparency reeks of irregularity. (An aside: How are members of the CEB chosen, what hand does Diño have in its choosing, WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE rating films and deciding who will get tax rebates?)

Ah, but the plot thickens. And we’re not talking about that hagiography — propaganda never thickens, it just becomes more shameful as we go along. This was the image that went around:

No letterhead, no signatory.

But by the evening, the original letter was forwarded to me. It was an attachment to an email that had a signatory and a list of recipients — all of which were forwarded to me as well. So unless all those email addresses are false, this looks credible enough to finally talk about.

Why does this make matters worse for FDCP? To start with, it’s the fact that this film got a B rating from CEB, but is getting a rebate for an A rating, which is 100%.

But there is something about this letter purportedly addressed to cinema owners (yes, I got the email addresses, too), that makes the stench of corruption stronger. What is the “government’s tax incentive program for 2019” which apparently is about choosing certain films for a 100% tax rebate? Note that it says the Bato film has been chosen as “4th recipient” of this incentive program for the year 2019. It’s only January, which means that they’ve already given this 100% tax rebate to four films? What were the first two?

Nowhere in this letter is it said that the basis of this rebate is the rating of CEB. In fact, if FDCP has “awarded” four films 100% tax rebates for 2019, under the CEB program it would be in violation of basic rules. Rated B is equal to a 65% tax rebate, and Rated A is equal to a 100% rebate. Here’s the ratings of CEB so far for 2019 according to the FDCP Facebook page.

No film has been rated A thus far. So why would any film be given a 100% tax rebate?

Unless of course this is a “new” incentive program for 2019? But pray tell when did this start, how did this happen, how are recipients chosen? If this is a “mistake” that’s been made — we can imagine damage control before it happens with this government — and this letter was supposed to say 65%, then we still go back to the first question.

Why is campaign material for an administration candidate, a Duterte man, being given tax rebates by a  government entity that is FDCP, as led by a Duterte appointee? Why is this film, which can easily be replicated and distributed, shown in barangay and city halls all over the country, even as it need not be declared as a campaign expense, why is this film being given tax rebates at all? And you know why it would be easy to get this film shown at LGUs all over the country? Because the DILG USec is another Duterte man, with last name Diño.

Isn’t that a perfect circle?

But of course Duterte’s nostrils will miss this whiff of corruption, even when at this point it’s already a stench. ***