House OKs Eddie Garcia bill on final reading

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

February 6, 2023, 6:34 pm

MANILA – The House of Representatives on Monday overwhelmingly approved on third and final reading a bill providing better working conditions for the movie, television and radio entertainment industry.

A total of 240 lawmakers voted to approve House Bill 1270, or the proposed Eddie Garcia Act, which aims to provide workers in those industries opportunities for gainful employment and a decent income, and protect them from abuse, harassment, hazardous working conditions and economic exploitation.

No lawmaker voted against the measure or abstained from voting.

Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said the proposal would cover thousands of people working in the entertainment sector.

“It would ensure that they continue to have gainful employment and protect them against abuse, harassment, dangerous working environment and exploitation,” he said.

The bill is named after the late veteran actor Eddie Garcia, who died in 2019 after suffering a neck injury while shooting for a television series.

“Manong Eddie was a hugely popular actor well-loved by many Filipinos. It was unfortunate that he died in such circumstances. But the accident served as a wake-up call for the industry and for us policymakers in Congress,” Romualdez said.

1-Pacman Party-list Rep. Mikee Romero, Garcia’s congressman-stepson and author of the bill, said the accident and the actor's eventual death highlighted the need for a safe workplace for entertainment industry workers, many of whom are self-employed independent actors, actresses and performers.

The bill defines an industry worker or independent contractor as “any person engaged or hired by the employer or principal to render services involving the production, distribution, and exhibition of film, television, and radio entertainment content.”

The worker/contractor shall execute an agreement or employment contract in a language or dialect understood by both parties before he/she is asked to render service.

The employer/principal shall provide him/her a copy of the signed contract, which shall include job position and description, period of employment, details of compensation, salary deductions, if any, work hours, code of conduct, board and lodging, medical care, employer’s policies, and any other lawful condition agreed by both parties.

The bill proposes that the normal work hours of the worker or talent shall be eight hours a day, which can be extended to a maximum of 12 hours, including waiting time in the set or workplace.

Service beyond 8 hours shall be paid overtime pay.

In no case shall work hours be more than 60 hours in a week.

The bill further provides that travel time to and from out-of-town projects shall be compensable working time.

The bill provides that the minimum wage rates of workers or independent contractors shall not be less than the applicable minimum wage in the region.

The employee shall also be entitled to social security and welfare benefits such as the Social Security System, the Home Development Mutual Fund or the Pag-IBIG Fund and PhilHealth insurance.

It mandates the employer to comply with occupational safety and health standards, promote mental health and prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

Work for minors shall be governed by Republic Act 9231, or the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act. (PNA)