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NCCA’s ‘SPEND FIRST – PAY LATER’ Policy

July 1, 2011

Sudden defocus…I can’t help but think of the problem that is confronting me now, regarding the possibility of not being able to finish my Project Rizal in time for November Deaf Month 2011 because of the sudden imposition to ‘Individual Grantees’ of the SPEND FIRST  —  PAY LATER policy by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts Commission on Audit. This would mean, according to the official communication I received yesterday June 30, but dated July 1, that, ‘INSTEAD OF THE USUAL RELEASE OF GRANT AS CASH ADVANCE AND IN TRANCHES, YOU ARE EXPECTED TO SPEND FIRST FOR THE PROJECT AND SUBMIT THE LIQUIDATION -proof of expenses- OF THE GRANT BEFORE WE RELEASE YOUR FUND.

If individual artists are moneyed, rich, affluent — there is no problem. They won’t even bother to approach NCCA. Who seeks for assistance but those who like us can only possibly make the project roll when financial means are extended. As I replied to Vim in his interview questions re budget matters– I may have ideas, have the will power and determination to make worthwhile films, but I need equipment. I need cameras, materials, and manpower to help me. Not all people will voluntarily work because you will be eating up their time, will waste their energy, will exhaust them. They must receive what is due to them. Making film is not easy. It is just easy to watch and criticize. But the making of a film –even a minuter—is not like magic. Not so many people know  about the difficulties filmmakers encounter especially, independent filmmakers who make no-star documentaries.

We all need to eat when we work, need transport to go to our location. Now, where to get that—the money ‘to spend first’ is the question. Will the people I work with agree to be paid later.. is something i will know these coming days because i will lay to them the cards that affect us all…on second thoughts, why should i be bothered by this when the most sensible thing NCCA COA should be doing is to respect the MOA I signed with them before this new policy came up. It disturbs the current smooth flow on policies that they are enforcing. They themselves are breaching the contract they have prepared. What have we got to do with what COA found out re their old policies that should be enforced is not the grantees problem anymore…they should first be resolved internally. Why shouldn’t they think of our concerns as well before demanding us to suddenly impose the spend first policy, especially when the MOA signed months ago is already being enforced.

This afternoon, I had an immediate meeting with the key people in the project, emailed those who could not come—and we ended up with the consensus that NCCA have no right to just dismiss the MOA grantees signed before this issue came up. So, my stand is to let them know that respect for the MOA I/and the rest of the other grantees who signed before July should be respected.

Project RIZAL must be done. With God’s grace it will materialize. And with production crew members who trust me and believe in what I am doing, WE SHALL OVERCOME. Though we maybe late in production because of this policy, let the right course be taken. We prefer to take the Daang Matuwid.

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