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KISSAH AND DAWAT: “Is Creative Economy Possible in the BARMM?

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ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 14 April) – Grateful to MPs Atty. Ras Mitmug and Datu Amir Mawallil as well as Atty. Michael Henry Yusingco for the opportunity to serve as reactor in today’s Zoom forum on the Philippine Creative Industry Act and Baguio City as Member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN). MPs Atty. Ras Mitmug and Datu Amir Mawallil are exploring the legislative implication of this national law and Baguio’s creative industry model. 

Atty. Michael Henry Yusingco presented Republic Act No. 11904 or the Philippine Creative Industry Act, which lapsed into law in 2022. The law aims (1) to promote and support the development of Philippine creative industries, and (2) to protect and strengthen the rights and capacities of creative actors, from firms to artists, from artisans to creators, from workers to indigenous cultural communities, and from content providers to stakeholders.

The Act defines creative industries inclusive, albeit, non-exhaustive, of these so-called domains – (1) audiovisual media, (2) digital interactive media, (3) creative services; (4) design – architecture, urban landscaping, interior and spatial planning, fashion and accessory making, textile development, furniture making, jewelry making, footwear making, and toy making; (5) publishing and printed media, (6) performing arts, (7), visual arts, (8) traditional cultural expressions, and (9) cultural sites.

Under this law, the key institutional body is the establishment of the Philippine Creative Industries Development Council (PCIDC) composed of 10 ex-officio members and nine members from the private sectors representing the various domains earlier stated. Atty. Yusingco expressed concern about the large number of members and questioned how they can effectively work together. 

Besides the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, it is worth noting that several other cultural agencies are not included as members of the PCIDC. These agencies include the Film Development Council of the Philippines, National Council for Children’s Television, Design Center of the Philippines, Cultural Center of the Philippines, National Museum, and National Book Development Board.

The PCIDC has four key mandates, which are as follows: (1) Planning and policy formulation, primarily focused on the formulation of the Philippine Creative Industries Development Plan; (2) Private sector participation, particularly regarding guidelines for the identification, accreditation, engagement, and networking of creative actors; (3) Marketing and promotion, including local and overseas exchanges, endorsement of international opportunities for the local creative industries, and integration into the national tourism development plan; and (4) Capacity-building, with a priority focus on promoting intellectual property rights of the creative industry, protecting indigenous traditional cultural properties, and providing training support.

Under this law, a range of support is available for creative actors, including existing resources provided by various line agencies. Infrastructure support is available through the Department of Trade and Industry’s shared services facilities, and registration can be completed through the Negosyo Center. Research and development support is provided through the Department of Science and Technology’s Research and Development support program, while digitization is available through the Department of Information and Technology.

Access to credit is facilitated by government-owned and controlled corporations, and creative instruction and education are provided through the Department of Education, Technological Education Skills Development Authority, and Commission on Higher Education. Finally, public-private partnership opportunities are available through the Philippine Build-Operate-Transfer Law.

The Creative Voucher System and the Creative Industry Development Fund are two new forms of support that will be implemented by the council once it becomes operational. This is especially exciting given the establishment of Local Culture and Art Councils (LCACs) across local government units. The law also follows the example of the UCCN by establishing the Philippine Creative Cities Network as an incubator and accelerator for creative industries.

The two proponents in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, MPs Atty. Ras Mitmug and Datu Amir Mawallil, are experts in law and public management, respectively. Let us support them in empowering the LCACs to lead the development of the cultural industry across the provinces, municipalities, and cities in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). We must ensure that this effort leads to the decentralization of the implementation of the regional framework; otherwise, it will simply add another layer of centralized management, which is contrary to the goal of autonomy.

For the BARMM, there is a need to assess the current capacity of its local industry – what are its strengths and weaknesses, and how it can take advantage of this national law to have its own legal framework. Should it pursue the larger Creative Economy? Certainly, the Baguio model can inspire the cities of Cotabato, Lamitan, and Marawi as key incubating and accelerating hubs for the creative industry in the BARMM. However, for the rest of the region, I reckon we should consider beginning with a more focused approach to the Cultural Industry.

Let us see how this regional effort will progress in the coming days. MP Atty. Ras Mitmug envisions today’s forum as an awareness campaign and a beginning of a series to generate inputs from rights-holders and stakeholders. We wish them well.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Noor Saada is a Tausug of mixed ancestry—born in Jolo, Sulu, grew up in Tawi-Tawi, studied in Zamboanga and worked in Davao, Makati and Cotabato. He is a development worker and peace advocate, former Assistant Regional Secretary of the Department of Education in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, currently working as an independent consultant and is a member of an insider-mediation group that aims to promote intra-Moro dialogue.)

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