Stars aligned for the ‘Eddie Garcia Law’

(THE MANILA TIMES) Senator Padilla, who traces his roots as an actor, has been lobbying the Senate to prioritize this major film industry concern of protecting workers through the Eddie Garcia Bill.

As one of the Bill’s authors, the good Senator is not only doing good work on the Senate floor, but also in gathering the stakeholders to support his cause.

“Kosmos” is a testament to that. It was another way to answer the call and rally behind those behind the scenes, the often unsung heroes of the film, television, and radio entertainment industries. Standing as one behind this battle cry were nearly 100 celebrities who attended the forum including prominent figures such as Eddie Gutierrez, Annabelle Rama, FDCP Chairman Tirso Cruz 3rd, Bembol Roco, Philip Salvador, Coco Martin, Maricel Soriano, Jaclyn Jose, Iza Calzado, Dolly de Leon, Ruffa Guttierez, Ara Mina, Tonton Gutierrez, Jhong Hilario, Vhong Navarro, director Joyce Bernal and many more.

Since the time of Lino Brocka, there has been a push for an enabling law that protects the very heart of this industry, our workers. Many have already attempted to pave the way for this to happen, but it was the untimely death of Philippine cinema icon Eddie Garcia that reignited the film industry’s passion for change.

During my time in government, we held several months of consultations with film sectors, which resulted in the Joint Memorandum Agreement between the Department of Labor and the FDCP.

This policy, which is currently being enforced by the heads of the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) and the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), outlined the industry’s working conditions and occupational safety guidelines. It was a significant step forward in terms of legislation, particularly in prioritizing safety, which became all the more important because of the Covid-19 pandemic’s challenges. This also became an important basis for the Eddie Garcia Bill.

One striking aspect of the Kosmos forum was the presence of actors actively involved in government, especially the senators leading the realization of the Eddie Garcia Bill.

Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla Jr. were among the senators who actively participated in the discussions. Additionally, Congresswoman Lani Mercado, Councilors Aiko Melendez, and Angelu de Leon were present to give their input on the bill. Their involvement underscored their dedication to ensuring the welfare of individuals working in the entertainment industry, leveraging their positions to drive positive change.

Kosmos provided a unique opportunity for actors and actresses from various generations and backgrounds to come together and engage in meaningful dialogue. Throughout the event, passionate discussions ensued, covering a wide range of topics related to the welfare of workers in the entertainment industry.

Participants shared personal anecdotes, highlighting their challenges throughout their careers. They emphasized the need for substantial changes to ensure fair treatment, protection, and better working conditions.

The forum transformed into a platform for sharing experiences, exchanging ideas, and building consensus on the most effective measures to address these pressing concerns.

At the heart of the Eddie Garcia Bill lies the establishment of a comprehensive framework for protecting and promoting workers’ rights in the entertainment industry. This framework includes provisions for fair compensation, job security, health and safety standards, and access to social welfare benefits.

The forum provided a valuable opportunity to delve into the specifics of these provisions, with actors offering their invaluable input based on their firsthand experiences.

As the Kosmos forum drew to a close, there was a palpable sense of unity and determination among the participants. The discussions had been fruitful, and a more straightforward path forward had emerged.

The actors and actresses, along with the senators and government officials present, expressed their unwavering commitment to further refining the Eddie Garcia Bill and pushing for its successful passage into law.

Kosmos was not just a singular event; it began a more significant movement to transform the entertainment industry into a more equitable and sustainable sector.

One of the outcomes of the discussion is the possibility of adapting the lower house version of the Eddie Garcia Bill which had already passed unanimously at the House level under the leadership of congressmen Arjo Atayde and Toff de Venecia, and supported by Lani Mercado and the Creative industry congress bloc. The goal was to streamline the provisions in the bill to address the prevailing issues film workers face comprehensively.

Once this bill becomes law, it’s crucial to remember that the journey does not end there.

There is much more to be done, not just to protect the welfare of workers in the industry but also to develop the industry itself, to help it flourish and prosper, and to enable it to soar to even greater heights.

Senator Robin Padilla, in his impassioned address, expressed this sentiment, acknowledging the progress made and the work that still lies ahead.

The expedited attention to safety is a testament to the industry’s adaptability and resilience. It demonstrates that, despite the obstacles, production companies are setting an example of organization and professionalism for shoots. It’s a paradigm shift — a change in mindset and approach — that reflects the industry’s commitment to evolve and adapt to a rapidly changing world.

The legacy of the Kosmos forum will extend far beyond its duration. It will inspire future generations of actors, actresses, and industry professionals to continue the fight for the welfare and rights of film workers.

By championing the Eddie Garcia Bill, the entertainment industry has taken a significant step forward in creating an environment where workers are valued, protected, and empowered.

Kosmos was more than just a forum; it was a catalyst for change. It brought together the industry’s brightest stars, igniting a spark of hope and unity.

With their voices amplified and their commitment reaffirmed, the actors and actresses present at Kosmos have set a new course for the future of the entertainment industry — one that genuinely champions the welfare of film workers and paves the way for a more inclusive and equitable sector for generations to come. By Liza Diño-Seguerra