The Philippine Center of International PEN has condemned guidelines set by the Film Development Council (FDCP) for shoots, saying they were released outside of the agency’s powers.

The FDCP, in Advisory 06 or the “Clarificatory Guidelines on the FDCP-DOH-DOLE Joint Administrative Order No. 2020-001 on the Health and Safety Protocols on the Conduct of Film and AV Production Shoots,” required the registration of productions with the agency and the Department of Labor and Employment.

The issuance of the guidelines, which further burdens “already struggling” creative industries, was outside of the FDCP’s regulatory powers, the Philippine PEN said.

“The creative industries are already struggling to survive from the dire economic impact of the Duterte government’s ‘enhanced community quarantine,’ and the FDCP, which was created by law to foster ferment in the creative industries by technical and financial assistance, is not helping at all by assuming regulatory powers it does not legally have,” the statement read.

The Philippine PEN added that Advisory 06 also threatens to “impinge on freedom of speech and creative rights enshrined in the Constitution,” and urged the FDCP to do away with intrusive guidelines.

“If the FDCP cannot be part of the solution, it should not be part of the problem: it should, like all good actors, make a graceful exit,” it said.

Other entertainment industry and production groups, such as the Directors’ Guild of the Philippines Inc and the Inter-Guild Alliance, have also slammed the FDCP guidelines for being “detrimental to the industry’s welfare.”

Malacañang has questioned the issuance of Advisory 06, saying it was not under FDCP’s scope of power.

“I had questions about the alleged guidelines, which they have issued to govern the resumption of work in the film industry, noting that the statute and executive orders that created the council did not give it regulatory powers,” Roque said in an interview with ANC.

Instead, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Education, to which the FDCP is attached, should be the ones issuing the guidelines, Roque said.

The Philippine PEN said it viewed Advisory 06, as well as the signing of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 into law, as “instruments of state terrorism.”

“We therefore ‘pledge (ourselves) to oppose any form of suppression of freedom of expression.’ PEN also ‘declares for a free press and opposes arbitrary censorship in times of peace,'” it said.

“We urge freedom-loving Filipinos to be vigilant and oppose any attempt to return the nation to the dark days of despotism,” the Philippine PEN added. John Ezekiel J. Hirro