What went wrong with the ‘Eddie Garcia bill’?

What went wrong with the ‘Eddie Garcia bill’?

After third and final reading at the Senate, the “Eddie Garcia bill” was sent in April to the Office of the President for signing. No action has been taken so far. 

Meanwhile, certain quarters in the local entertainment industry have spoken about some questionable provisions in the final form of Senate Bill No. 2505, or An Act Protecting the Welfare of Workers in the Movie and Television Industry. 

After the celebratory air in the halls of the Senate early this year, whipped up by TV and film luminaries mobilized by entertainment-industry leaders in lobbying for and lending support to the measure, a number of movie/TV stars and workers are voicing unhappiness about some of its provisions.

Eddie Garcia bill

Listen to Leo Martinez, TV and movie actor, writer and director, and former director general of the Film Academy of the Philippines, expressing disappointment in his video as Congressman Manhik-Manaog: 

“Akala ko ba, itong ‘Eddie Garcia Bill ay para sa mga manggagawa. Ay, bakit sa tingin ko ay kampi at pabor pa rin … sa mga networks at mga prodyuser.” (I thought this bill is for the workers. But in my view, it is siding with and favoring networks and producers.)

According to Martinez, one just has to refer to Section 9 of the measure stating that the maximum weekly working hours for audiovisual projects, per the Department of Labor and Employment based on labor laws and the International Labor Organization convention, is 40 hours standard plus 8 hours for overtime, or a total of 48 hours per week.

He wondered why the bill mentions too many working hours: “Eh bakit yang ‘Eddie Garcia bill’ na yan ay sobra-sobra? Sixty hours daw.” 

Off-camera workers do not benefit from the bill’s final version, Martinez pointed out:

“Kung 14 hours lang ang para sa lahat nang manggagawa, eh paano naman yung nadating bago dumating ang mga artista? Sila rin ang nagpa-pack at huling umaalis. Eh di 16, 17, 18 ang trabaho nila. Okay pa ba yun?” (If 14-hour work is applied to all workers, what about those who come to the set earlier and leave later than the actors? So, their working hours are 16, 17, 18. Is that okay?)

Even actors of senior age will be affected by certain stipulations in the bill, he added:  “Nawala na rin yung sa senior citizen. Dapat eight hours lang ang trabaho nila. Bakit? Anong nangyari?” (The provisions for senior-citizen actors are missing as well. They should work eight hours only. Why? What happened?) 

Martinez raised the issue of proper remuneration for talents, and cited a provision in the Intellectual Property Law stating that actors can collect fees not greater than 5% of their original daily talent fee whenever their films and TV shows are reshown. For example, he said, if one’s daily talent fee is P1,000, one is entitled to P50 for every replay of one’s work.

“Eh bakit ang ‘Eddie Garcia bill,’ kumampi na naman sa mga network at prodyuser?” he said. “Ang remuneration daw ay depende sa pag-uusap ng artista at ng network o prodyuser. Ay! Mali yan!” (Why is the bill again favoring the networks and producers? It says the remuneration depends on the arrangement between the actor and the network or producer. That’s not right.)

Martinez also said it’s unlawful for the intellectual property rights of talents to be bound to contracts with networks and producers. 

Other members of the entertainment industry have likewise raised concerns about the approved Senate bill. 

Actor and producer Carlo Maceda, for one, recalled how he attended the Senate hearing on the bill early this year to fight for the basic human rights of and better working conditions for entertainment workers, but it all turned out to be a farce:  “Nakipaglaban pa kami para sa mga karapatan namin bilang mga actor, lalo na sa pasahod at oras ng paggawa, pero moro-moro lang pala yon.”

But there’s nothing more to be done, Maceda said, adding that he considered Senators Robinhood Padilla, Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr., Jinggoy Estrada, Lito Lapid and others who worked on the measure as his senior colleagues and elder brothers in the industry: “Wala tayong magagawa. Itinuturing ko silang mga kuya.”

On the other hand, action star and now full-fledged director Efren Reyes Jr. said he does not want to take sides and make enemies.

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