Showbiz stars reveal woes during hearing on Eddie Garcia case

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 03 2020 04:54 PM | Updated as of Feb 03 2020 07:01 PM

Scenes from the second day of Eddie Garcia's wake at the Heritage Memorial Park in Taguig City. Michael Bagtas, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- A congressional hearing on various bills and resolutions following the death of showbiz icon Eddie Garcia became emotional as stakeholders shed tears while recalling the challenges of working in show business. 

Former child star Ice Seguerra tearfully recalled how workers, especially extras, are abused and do not have an outlet for their complaints. 

"Sa init ng araw nasa ilalim lang ho kami ng payong, nakaupo, walang maayos na lugar. Medyo nag-level up para sa mga artista but unfortunately for the extras, it's like this. Until now they come to the set earlier than all of us but you see them sitting in cardboard boxes. Wala man lang upuan, walang merienda minsan," Seguerra said. 

"It’s hard because they're there, because they are very passionate about what they do. They love what they do. We love what we do and that's why there’s a tendency for us to be abused because we love what we do and hindi kami nagrereklamo about it but mahal na mahal namin.”

Seguerra, who started in showbiz as a contestant in a popular noontime show, said he is thankful that showbiz workers are now being recognized and given protections. 

"I'm just very happy on its 100th year finally we're seeing some hope. Finally we are recognized as workers, as an industry... Unfortunately, actors can't really say much. They're bound by contract by these big networks and they can't say anything because there's a gag order," he said. 

"Paano kami magsasalita? 'Pag nagsalita kami, mawawalan kami ng trabaho. Ang hirap rin for us."

Actor Bembol Roco, who starred in the Filipino classic like "Maynila: Sa Mga Kuko ng Liwanag," said many Filipino directors had tried and failed to shed light on the challenges faced by showbiz workers such as lack of standing working hours. 

"Binibigyan niyo ng importansya ngayon 'yung aming kalagayan. Noon pa man early '80s sila Lino Brocka, sila Behn Cervantes, have been trying to make this happen. Pero hindi nakakuha ng sapat na suporta. Hanggang ngayon eh ganun pa rin ang sitwasyon," he said. 

"Hindi naman kami humihingi nang hindi sapat sa amin. Fairness lang. Medyo naabuso kaming lahat sa pamamahala ng networks, ng producers na ganun ang sistema na walang working hours.”

"It's crazy to think na meron palang ganung trabaho walang limit sa oras.”

Seguerra noted that in the past, paramedics were not deployed during shoots and live events until the 2006 PhilSports stampede that killed 73 people. 

"Before, wala talagang standby na paramedic. Nangyari lang na nagkaroon na because nangyari 'yung Wowowee stampede," he said. 

"Marami babagsak, marami nagkakasakit.”

The House investigation was spurred by the death of veteran actor Eddie Garcia who suffered a neck fracture which he sustained while shooting a scene.

Redgie Magno, GMA Network vice president for drama production, said they do not always have ambulance on standby.

"In our tapings before, we usually have ambulance on the scene but in the last meeting I also mentioned that it depends on what we will be taping for that day. ...It is also a requirement from DOLE that members of production undergo training for first aid which we complied with. We had our members of the staff attend trainings conducted by DOLE. You may even ask actors from the series that we have produced we have ambulance on the set," he said.

"If there is no ambulance, we have medic and we have first aiders. But then again as I have explained, it's not all the taping days that we have an ambulance but we have medics and first aiders on the scene."

ACT CIS Rep. Nina Taduran, herself a former broadcaster, was also emotional. "I can say I empathize and sympathize with them. The industry is the most exploited workers in the country. Pareho lang kami halos 24/7. Halos hindi natutulog ang ating media workers. Kung makakapagsalita lang ang mga cameraman natin dito, mga reporters, this is a very glamorous profession kasi nag-o-oncam kami.”

“Behind that alam natin wala sila social benefits, wala sila overtime pay, wala sila insurance no hazard pay. Paano na kung may ganitong aksidente?” she said.

“Naranasan ko rin noon 'yung 3 months contract, contractual, 'yung ating mga kasamahan sa industriya. Nafi-feel ko rin ano nafi-feel nila. That’s why very emotional ako. Marami na kongresista nag-attempt maipasa ang bill na ito, up to now wala pa rin.”

Labor Committee chair Eric Pineda acknowledged how emotional the proceedings have become. “Malapit na rin ako naiyak. Very touching. Hindi po ito acting, totoo po ito,” he said.

The committee is deliberating on the following measures:

HB 81 – Prescribing a mandatory occupational safety, health, and emergency response program for all artists in the film, television, and theater industries of the Philippines (Rep. Ronnie Ong)

HBs 181 & 4875 – Creating an Occupational Safety and Health Standards Act (OSHA) for the film, television, and theater industry of the Philippines (Deputy Speaker Michael Romero Ph.D. and Rep. Rufus Rodriguez)

HBs 1019 & 5596 – Regulating the work schedule and other terms of engagement governing cinema, radio, television, theater, and other media personnel who are covered by a service or talent contract and providing penalties for violations thereof (Reps. Precious Hipolito Castelo and John Marvin ‘Yul Servo’ Nieto)

HB 1766 – Providing for proper working conditions in the movie and television industry (Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund ‘LRay’ Villafuerte Jr.)

HB 2476 – Providing enhanced protection, security and benefits for media workers (Rep. Rowena Niña Taduran)

HR 195 – Inquiry into the occupational health and safety of the workers of the entertainment industry in light of the death of veteran actor Eddie Garcia (Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund ‘LRay’ Villafuerte Jr.)