Press Release
December 5, 2023


Mr. President, esteemed colleagues, distinguished guests, a pleasant afternoon.

Your Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, joint with the Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, is honored to sponsor Senate Bill No. 2505 under Committee Report No. 175 entitled "An Act Protecting the Welfare of Workers in the Movie and Television Industry," or simply known as the "Eddie Garcia Law." This substitute measure is a consolidation of Senate Bill Nos. 450, 1889, and 460 filed by Senators Padilla, Lapid, and this representation, taking into consideration House Bill No. 1270, which had already been approved on final reading earlier this year.

Nakalulungkot mang banggitin, pero ang panukalang ito ay bunga ng aksidente sa television shooting na naging dahilan ng pagkamatay ng batikang aktor na si Eddie Garcia noong 2019. Despite his age—he was 90 years old at the time—the screen legend remained active in doing movies and television series. This unfortunate incident and his untimely demise which shocked the industry led some actors and workers to push for reforms, calling out dangerous working conditions especially on set, thus, paving the way for this measure.

Mr. President, this measure was put forward in order to ensure that workers—especially those who work behind the camera and work tirelessly even beyond normal working hours—are provided opportunities for gainful employment and decent incomes, and are protected from abuse, extended working hours, harassment, hazardous working conditions, and economic exploitation.

We have included specific provisions on social welfare benefits and insurance for work-related incidents or deaths that would provide the much-needed security and protection in an industry known for its unpredictable nature.

Matagal nang sinasabi na ang movie at television industry ay "peculiar" industry. Tila naging normal na rin para sa mga artista at manggagawa ang magtrabaho nang mahahabang oras, sa puntong umaabot pa ng tatlumpu't anim na oras (36 hours)[1] o higit pa, non-stop[2], at palipat-lipat ng lokasyon, para lamang maihabol ang petsa ng film showing o airing ng TV series.

While we acknowledge that this is indeed a "unique" industry, stakeholders admitted during our public hearings and consultations that there have been a lot of abuses regarding prolonged work hours, which, in effect, could be detrimental to the health of artists, producers and workers. In fact, there had been reports that some deaths in the industry may be attributed to burnout as a result of stretched working hours.

Not only that, despite working extended hours sans turnaround time, they usually do not have social safety nets, security of tenure usually accorded to regular workers, and waiting or rest areas on the set.

Naranasan ko rin po 'yan, Mr. President, nu'ng ako ay nagsisimula pa lamang bilang bagitong artista: Gigising ka ng madaling-araw para maghanda, pupunta sa probinsya, at dadating sa call time na alas-sais ng umaga, pero kinunan ako alas-nuwebe na ng gabi (9:00 pm). Wala akong magawa kasi hindi naman po ako superstar (noon 'yon).

But kidding aside, this has been the unregulated practice in the industry for so long, and many have already accepted that this is the norm in the movie and TV industry.

Mas kawawa po ang production staff, logistics crew, at iba pang nagpapagod sa likod ng camera. Mas maaga po ang call time nila at nauuna sila nang ilang araw sa set dahil kailangan nilang mag-impake ng bulto-bultong gamit, maglatag ng kable, magpintura, o mag-set up ng lighting. Minsan, iba-iba pa ang set location. Sila rin ang huling aalis pagtapos ng shoot para magligpit ng gamit.

The World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization warned that excessive hours, lack of rest and life-threatening levels of fatigue are increasing deaths from heart disease and stroke[3] worldwide. According to a joint report released in 2021, more than Seven Hundred Forty Five Thousand (745,000) people died in 2016 from heart disease and stroke related to working more than 55 hours per week, making long working hours as one of the biggest occupational health hazards. WHO and ILO also estimate that exposure to long working hours reduces life expectancy and diminishes quality of life.

Physical and mental strain of overworked people can start from fatigue, stress, impaired sleep, and unhealthy lifestyle changes. In addition, overworking reduces work performance and results in productivity loss due to illness or occupational injuries[4].

Of course, for a country like the Philippines, extended working hours in this industry means bigger pay—actually higher than the prevailing minimum wage. Sino naman ang ayaw nito? Your family can have a fairly decent life compared with regular workers. Ika nga, kayod kalabaw at lagare hangga't kaya ng katawan. And this has become lucrative especially for youngsters and heads of the family: They have higher take-home pay for their families.

Eventually, however, extended working periods will take a toll on your health. Not only that, time with your family also suffers. And the sad fact is, when the worker quits, the worker will just get replaced. And this recurrent practice just continues.

Stress-related illnesses or mental health issues arising from this unhealthy yet under-recognized and overlooked practice in the movie and TV industry often go unnoticed, especially for the production crew, maybe for fear of being replaced and for economic uncertainties.

In order to be consistent with the Philippine Labor Code and the international labor standards on working time, this Committee deemed it fit to put a premium on the protection and safety of workers in both film and TV productions.

Mr. President, how would workers be able to keep working for their passion and the industry they love if the same industry takes advantage of them? It is high time that we regulate this longstanding practice and we need to institute measures to impose standards and bring about change.

Under this proposal, normal work hours shall be eight (8) hours a day, up to a maximum of fourteen (14) hours, exclusive of meal periods, or a total of sixty (60) hours in a week.

Workers aged sixty (60) years and above shall be allowed, under exceptional circumstances as defined by the Tripartite Council, to work beyond eight (8) hours to fourteen (14) hours a day.

Workers shall also be governed by an employment contract to protect their interest, which shall include, among others, pertinent details about the job and its description, as well as the work hours and commensurate rate or any applicable benefits.

Workers who have existing projects or contracts with other outfits should also not be discriminated against, unless exclusivity is specified.

Mr. President, enacting this legislation would ensure that these measures that seek to protect workers in the movie and television industry would be properly implemented and upheld.

We cannot allow karoshi, a Japanese term which means death by overwork, to continue in our film and TV industry.

Simply, we can't go on like this.

Ginoong Pangulo, alam naman po ng ating mga kababayan na mula ako sa industriya ng pelikula, kagaya ng ilan nating kasamahan dito sa Senado. Napakalalaki po ang aking tinatanaw na utang na loob sa industriyang pinanggalingan ko; at ang panukalang ito ang pagbibigay-pugay ko sa pagsasakripisyo at pagsusumikap ng mga manggagawa sa industriya.

We really owe the success of every film or TV production to these workers. This is our tribute not just to "Manoy," but also to the industry's dedicated workers. Let us immortalize the legacy of "Manoy" Eddie Garcia through this bill.

Hinihikayat ko po ang aking kapwa mambabatas na suportahan ang panukalang ito na hindi lamang magbibigay ng proteksyon sa kapakanan ng TV at movie industry workers kundi para rin bigyan sila ng respeto at dignidad.

The daughter of Mr. Fernando Poe Jr., the King of Philippine Movies, informed this representation that she wishes to be a co-author of this measure.

Thank you, Mr. President and my dear colleagues.

[1] TSN, pp. 59-61. Senate Committee on Labor hearing, 27 Sept. 2023.

[2] TSN, p.22, Senate Committee on Labor hearing, 29 August 2023.

[3] "Long working hours increasing deaths from heart disease and stroke: WHO, ILO. 17 May 2021, World Health Organization.

[4] "Long working hours and health," June 2021. The Lancet Regional Health.

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