What you need to know about the ‘Eddie Garcia’ bill

(PHILSTAR LIFE) The Senate has approved the “Eddie Garcia” bill, which seeks to protect movie and television workers from unfair treatment and poor working conditions. 

Garnering 22 affirmative votes and no negative and abstentions, the upper house approved on Monday, Feb. 19 the Senate Bill No. 2505, or the “Eddie Garcia” bill on the third and final reading which aims to promote and protect the welfare of film and TV production workers. 

“A product of your Senate’s commitment to put forward the welfare of workers, this is our meaningful acknowledgment to them whose work [is] often overshadowed by the main content and star power of the main cast. We simply owe it to them,” the bill’s sponsor Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada said in his speech during the plenary session.

Who was Eddie Garcia?

Eddie Garcia was an actor who got into an accident while he was on set. He died at the age of 90 after suffering a neck cervical injury after tripping on a cable on the set for his supposed GMA teleserye comeback in 2019. He was comatose for 12 days before passing away on June 20. 

Garcia is known for his versatile roles decades into his career. Some of his memorable roles were Rainbow Sunset, ML, Padre Kalibre, Deathrow, and more.  

He also directed films like Saan Nagtatago ang Pag-Ibig?, Imortal, and PS I Love You. He garnered several awards and recognitions, including being inducted into the FAMAS Hall of Fame in three categories: Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Director. 

Garcia’s death was a turning point in the film industry, causing concern over its workers’ welfare and safety. Less than a month after his passing, a bill named after him was filed in the House of Representatives in 2019 by his stepson, former House Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero.

How does the bill protect industry workers?

With workers in mind, the bill pushes strict implementation of eight-hour working time to a maximum of 14 hours, or a total of 60 hours in a week, welfare benefits to ensure better working conditions and standards, and social security. 

Senator Jinggoy Estrada, who serves as the chairperson of the chamber’s committee on labor and sponsor of the bill, said the bill would help industry workers not only to secure better work opportunities, but also be protected from labor abuse such as long working hours, unsafe working conditions, and harassment. They will also guarantee workers insurance coverage in case of an accident or death during a movie and/or TV production.

The measure also covers non-discrimination against workers who have contracts or projects with other production outfits “unless exclusivity is specified in the contract.”

Additionally, industry workers are granted the Right to Self-organization and Collective Bargaining, protection from violence, harassment, or any act that degrades employees, and the installment of an occupational safety and health officer.

When made into law, the Eddie Garcia bill will require employers to provide important details about the job to industry workers.

Some of these include a copy of the contract indicating the job position and status, job description, period of employment or service, details of compensation and other workers’ benefits including rate, method, and schedule of payment; and authorized deductions.

It should also contain the hours of work and proportionate additional payment or overtime pay, board, lodging, and medical attention, workers’ grievance mechanism, employer’s or principal’s policies; and any other lawful condition agreed upon by both parties.

“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,” Estrada added.

Once signed into law, the senator said that employers will also be mandated to provide employment contracts, and the government will establish a Movie and Television Tripartite Council which will be composed of representatives from the government, employers, and workers in the movie and TV industry.