Senate passes landmark measure to protect movie, TV workers

(MANILA STANDARD) In a unanimous vote, the Senate passed on Monday Senate Bill No. 2505, or the proposed legislation aimed at protecting the welfare of workers in the movie and television industry, which will be known as the “Eddie Garcia Law.”

Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada authored the measure, which was named after the late veteran actor, who died while shooting a TV series. Estrada said the objective of his bill is to protect and support movie and television workers from unfair treatment and poor working conditions.

“A product of your Senate’s commitment to put forward the welfare of workers, this (SB 2505) is our meaningful acknowledgment to them whose work is often overshadowed by the main content and star power of the main cast,” said Estrada, also a former actor.

“We simply owe it to them,” Estrada also said in his speech during Monday’s plenary session.

While the bill was pursued following the demise of a legendary actor such as Garcia, Estrada said efforts to uplift the welfare of movie and TV workers were started 50 years ago by his father, then movie actor and San Juan Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada.

This was realized with the establishment of the Movie Workers Welfare Foundation (Mowelfund), primarily to aid industry workers, especially the underprivileged, in 1974. 

“This measure is the Senate’s recognition of the immense talent, dedication, and contribution not just of Filipino artists, but also those behind the camera, who put their heart and soul to come up with material for the movie and television industry… Oftentimes, we can see their names only at end credits,” he said. 

The bill aims to promote decent work and comprehensive social protection coverage to all sectors of the industry, including the implementation of standard working hours, wage-related and welfare benefits, and compliance with occupational safety and health hazards, among others.

A Movie and TV Industry Tripartite Council composed of representatives from the government, employers, and workers in the movie and TV industry shall also be created, Estrada said.

“It is a big honor to be given this important opportunity to sponsor the passage of Senate Bill No. 2505 because this is not only the realization of what was started by my father, but the goals of the movie and television industry,” the senator said.

Estrada, also the chairperson of the Senate committee on labor said it is sad to think that the death of veteran actor Eddie Garcia triggered this measure. On the other hand, this development gives him “peace of mind” that no more life will be lost due to safety issues in shooting locations.