(PNA file photo by Robert Alfiler)

MANILA – Senator Robinhood Padilla will push for additional protection for actors and workers in the entertainment industry, even as a former Malacañang official sought his help to include members of the media in his bill.

Senate Bill No. 450, or the “Eddie Garcia Law” as a tribute to the late veteran actor, will ensure the protection and benefits of workers in show business.

"The bill is a response to the urgent call of the members of the television and movie industry for the government to provide guidelines for safe and better working conditions and for the protection of the workers' welfare in the industry," Padilla said in a statement.

Joel Sy Egco, the first executive director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) and former National Press Club president, likewise urged Padilla to include media workers, similar to House Bill 304, or the Media Workers Welfare Act filed by Camarines Sur Representatives Luis Raymund Villafuerte, Miguel Luis Villafuerte and Tsuyoshi Anthony Horibata, and Bicol Saro party-list Representative Nicolas Enciso.

"Sana naman ay i-author din ni Senator Padilla itong ating nabinbin na panukalang batas, ang media workers welfare bill. Lahat ng media supportive din sa Eddie Garcia bill (I hope Senator Padilla also authors a bill for media workers' welfare. All media workers are supportive of the Eddie Garcia bill)," Egco said in a radio interview.

"Hindi matatawaran ang kondisyon ng ating mga kapatid sa media, kasama ang nagtatrabaho sa larangan ng pelikula at TV, at papalawig at papalakas ng demokrasya (We cannot deny the contribution of our workers in the media as well as in show business and their roles in strengthening our democracy)," Egco added.

The PTFoMS was created on Oct. 11, 2016 through President Rodrigo Duterte's Administrative Order 1.

It is headed by the Department of Justice and co-chaired by the Presidential Communications Operations Office, which has been renamed the Office of the Press Secretary. Members include the Department of National Defense, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Office of the Solicitor General, Presidential Human Rights Committee, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, and National Bureau of Investigation.

Among the accomplishments of the PTFoMS are a 24/7 hotline (+639178406790), creation of a quick response team, and increased online visibility to ensure prompt response to complaints, grievances, or requests for assistance by media workers receiving threats and intimidation.

The multi-awarded Garcia died at age 90 in June 2019 following an accident on the set of a televison series due to supposed negligence.

He hit his head after tripping on a cable wire, fell into a coma, and succumbed to complications 12 days later.

Long hours of shooting, low pay, stress, and overnight and overtime work are the other conditions being encountered by entertainment industry actors and staff.

The bill also mandates the presence of an Occupational Safety and Health officer to conduct a risk assessment on the workplace to prevent possible hazards.

Employees must have night shift differential pay and be covered by benefits from the Social Security System, Home Development Mutual Fund, and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, along with retirement benefits.

The Labor department will be mandated to establish a Film, Television and Radio Entertainment Industry Tripartite Council to act as a link among stakeholders and to resolve potential conflicts. (With a report from Leonel Abasola/PNA)