House subpanel OKs Eddie Garcia Act to protect showbiz workers

Eddie Garcia

THE House subcommittee on labor standards has approved the proposed workers’ protection in the audio-visual industry or the “Eddie Garcia Act”, which seeks to secure the safety of showbusiness workers during
shootings.

The subpanel chaired by Trade Union Congress of the Philippine (TUCP) party-list Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza approved the substitute measure for House Bill (HB) 81, 181, 1019, 4875, 5596, 6157, and 6549 or the proposed “Eddie Garcia Act” that will establish the occupational safety and health standards for the film, television and theater industry in the country.

“I thank the subcommittee for approving the Eddie Garcia bill. I anticipate its swift and prudent approval at committee and later on second and third readings at the soonest.

The Eddie Garcia bill assumes even greater importance and significance now given the workplace safety issues that have come with the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic,” said Deputy Speaker and 1-Pacman party-list Rep. Mikee Romero, one of the measure’s principal authors and stepson of Garcia.

“Workers and employers throughout the creative industries can gain much from implementing this measure when it is finally enacted into law. Safety first must be the rule not just in the construction and engineering fields, but in all career sectors, including the creative industries. The Eddie Garcia Bill would be the lasting legacy my
stepfather will leave for all Filipinos,”  stressed Romero, author of HB 181 and President of the 54-strong Party-list Coalition Foundation Incorporated (PCFI).

With the approval, the mother panel or the House committee on labor chaired 1-Pacman party-list Rep. Enrico Pineda, also a principal author, will approve the Eddie Garcia Act for plenary passsage.

Other authors of the measure includes Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte Jr. (2nd District, Camarines Sur), Ang Probinsyano party-list Reps. Ronnie Ong and Alfred delos Santos, Reps. Precious Hipolito Castelo (2nd District, Quezon City), Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City), John Marvin Nieto (3rd District, Manila), Edward Vera Perez Maceda (4th District, Manila), Dale Malapitan (1st District, Caloocan City), Eric Martinez (2nd District, Valenzuela City), Rolando Valeriano (2nd District, Manila), Bayan Muna Party-list Reps. Ferdinand Gaite, Eufemia Cullamat and Carlos Isagani Zarate, Reps. Arlene Brosas (Party-list, GABRIELA), France Castro (Party-=list, ACT TEACHERS) and Sarah Jane Elago (Party-list,
KABATAAN).

Romero explained that the film, television and theater industry involve a unique business, and as such, presents several unique health and safety hazards that require special attention.

Under this House bill, the film, television and theater industry are required to provide a safe workplace for all its workers and employees.

Workplace safety and health protocols shall be primordial to eliminate personal injuries, illness or even death from occurring inside the workplace,” the lawmaker explained.

Under Romero’s proposal, it seeks to limit working hours on the movie set between eight to 12 hours, which already covers waiting hours in between takes, among other safety and security provisions.

Romero’s bill said show business personalities blame the holding of long hours of taping and shooting in films to lead actors and actresses who are usually tardy in reporting to the set, thus, causing undue delays that put at risk the health of other involved actors and personnel.

It said that setting limits for filming and taping of movies will safeguard the health of all personnel and actors on the movie set, according to HB 181.

The bill filed by Romero also provides for mandatory personnel and production insurance coverage and the creation of a standard operating procedure for safety and medical emergencies on the set.

It also provides for emergency operational standards and protocol in the film, television and theater industry for scenes that involve the use of explosive, pyrotechnics, smoke and fog, gasoline operated equipment, scaffoldings, and others that may endanger the physical safety of all persons involved, it added.

Under HB 181, the producer or management is tasked to identify safety and health hazards in the workplace.

Garcia, 90, suffered serious internal injuries after tripping on lose cables on the production set of a regular television series being taped by GMA Network on June 8, 2019.

The multi-awarded actor was known for his professionalism and never reported late on the set even during his prime as among the most popular actors in the country, noted Romero.

The Eddie Garcia Act makes it mandatory for the producer or the corporation involved to pay the full hospitalization bill of personnel who suffer injuries as a result of accidents on the set.

The cost of lost of livelihood will also be paid for by the employer or producer.

Non-compliance to provisions of the bill may cost the management a fine of not less than P100,000 for each day the violation is committed, according to Romero’s measure.

For subsequent offenses, imposable penalty is P1 million and revocation of the franchise to operate, the Deputy Speaker bill added.