Passage of ‘Eddie Garcia bill’ eyed before year-end

(ABS-CBN) MANILA — Sen. Jinggoy Estrada said Tuesday he aims to pass within the year the so-called Eddie Garcia bill which seeks to protect workers in the entertainment industry.

The commitment came after it was revealed during Tuesday’s hearing of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development that until now, there are still shootings and tapings that last beyond 20 hours a day.

Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada presides over the Committee on Labor’s hearing on proposed measures providing protection and benefits to entertainment and media workers Tuesday, August 29, 2023. Voltaire F. Domingo/Senate PRIB

Golden Globe nominee Dolly De Leon attended the hearing as a representative of the group Aktor: League of Filipino Actors and she shared how she herself has experienced working on a set for 23 hours straight during the post-pandemic period.

“’Pag crying scene o lalo na ‘pag malaki ‘yung role natin sa pelikula or sa serye, madalas kaming nakasalang. So minsan po talagang the whole time, gising kami,” said De Leon.

Meanwhile, actress Iza Calzado, who is part of the board of directors of Aktor, said there was a time during the pandemic when the issue with working hours was already resolved out of concern for people’s health. 

But now that things have returned to normal, she said limitations on working hours are no longer being followed.

These revelations surprised Estrada, who vowed to address this through legislation.

“If this Eddie Garcia bill will be enacted into law, we will never allow that to happen. That is an assurance coming from me,” he said.

The League of Filipino Actors suggested having standard 14-hour working days for workers in the entertainment industry.

This was backed by the Philippine Motion Pictures Producers Association (PMPPA) but the group said this should be exclusive of travel and meal times.

“In the case of the film industry, it’s a very unique situation because we don’t go to offices. We don’t have a set place to go to. In fact, we move from one location to another. Most of the time, when we go to a location, we set it up from scratch,” said PMPPA secretary and legal counsel Josabeth Alonso.

But as for the National Alliance of Broadcast Unions (NABU), it said that the 14-hour work schedule should already include travel time in consideration of production crews.

“Sa amin kasi, kumukuha pa sila ng gamit. At the same time, pagkatapos naman ng taping, nagbabaklas pa sila, tapos isasauli pa nila ‘yun,” said NABU president Generoso Villanueva Jr.

Estrada has ordered the TV networks present in the hearing to submit a position paper on the issue within the next seven days.

“We’ll strike a balance para hindi naman agrabyado ‘yung mga producers at hindi agrabyado ‘yung mga workers sa film industry, mga artista, mga nasa likod ng camera,” said Estrada. 

Back in February, the House of Representatives already passed on third reading its own version of the Eddie Garcia bill, which was named after the veteran actor who died in 2019 after suffering from an accident while shooting a TV series.