Eddie Garcia’s legacy | Inquirer Opinion

Eddie Garcia’s legacy

/ 05:03 AM June 09, 2024

On June 8, 2019, exactly five years to the day yesterday, acting legend Eddie Garcia tripped on a loose cable on the set of a TV series he was filming. He sustained a fracture on his cervical spine and fell into a coma; he died in a hospital 12 days later. He was 90 years old. He left behind a richly diverse filmography and countless accolades but his biggest legacy to the entertainment industry where he flourished for 70 years is the enactment of Republic Act No. 11996 or the “Eddie Garcia Law,” which protects the welfare of movie and television industry workers.

Last Monday, President Marcos signed RA 11996, which mandates movie and television employers “to ensure safe and humane working conditions, provide benefits and services for their workers’ security and well-being, and to adhere to a strict set of standards that are in accordance with the Labor Code.”

This is good news for all industry workers who had long campaigned for a healthy, conducive, and secure work environment including institutionalizing decent work hours, higher pay, and insurance.

Tragic accidents

How many times have industry workers, including directors and actors, complained about the long work hours spent on a movie or TV set because production companies have cut corners? This often resulted in a toxic environment where people were tired, overworked, or rushed to finish the work. Accidents were more likely to happen due to workers’ lack of sleep and awareness of the surroundings, or, simply, the lack of concern for their safety.


Many of the new law’s provisions took lessons from what happened to Garcia on the set that day. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) found in its investigation that GMA Network Inc., the producer of the series Garcia was working on, committed three violations of RA 11058 or the occupational safety and health law: 1) failure to submit an incident report within 24 hours from the time of the accident; 2) failure to deploy a safety officer on the set; 3) failure to provide a first aid responder. DOLE imposed a P890,000 administrative fine on GMA Network.

The new law set conditions to ensure that tragic accidents on the set can be avoided. Sec. 13 (g) states that the employer shall provide: “Safety officers and dedicated vehicles for emergency purposes in the production whether on out-of-town location or not.” Sec. 15 requires the safety officer to conduct a risk assessment of the workplace or location of production “to identify and eliminate or control any potential hazard to the workers.”

Insurance and compensation

Sec. 18 requires the employer to insure all workers for work-related accidents or deaths in movie or TV production while Sec. 19 mandates the employer to provide safe working conditions including, among others, making sure that workers are aware of any potential hazard including environmental or structural, all sets and locations have been assessed for safety, and safety equipment and protective devices are worn.

Sec. 9 mandates eight work hours a day that can be extended to 14 hours exclusive of meal periods. It further states that the total number of work hours should not exceed 60 hours a week and that there should be a rest period of not less than 10 hours between the end of work of one day and the beginning of work on the next day, a provision that also applies to locked-in shoots. Workers are also entitled to overtime pay and night shift differentials unless incorporated in the contract that stipulates a higher compensation. They are also entitled to compensation if a shoot is canceled less than eight hours before schedule unless it is due to force majeure.


Glamour of the industry

The section on wages, meanwhile, mandates the employer to pay the workers on time, a much-needed assurance for ordinary film or TV workers who work as hard on the set but do not have the multimillion-peso contracts of the main actors or the backing or protection of powerful talent agencies. Delayed pay, aside from long work hours, have been among the many gripes of those working in the industry, who like other ordinary Filipino workers, most often end up being victimized by bad labor practices.

The Eddie Garcia Law will certainly boost the morale, especially of those who work behind the scenes whose welfare and plight are often overshadowed by the glamour of the industry. Ensuring a professional work environment for everyone can only help the local industry thrive amid efforts to liven it and be competitive against big-budget Hollywood productions. It is also now the time for movie and TV companies to update their policies and review existing contracts to make sure they comply with RA 11996.


Garcia’s death could have been avoided had there been policies in place to secure the safety of movie and TV sets but it served as a wake-up call for our policymakers to enact a law protecting the welfare of workers in the industry. His death, tragic as it was, was not in vain.

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