House Bill 4218 not cast in stone
I write regarding the letter of the Linangan ng Kulturang Pilipino concerning House Bill No. 4218 or the proposed OPM Development Act of 2014 (“Gov’t out to ‘frame’ art to serve big business,” 3/6/15). It is encouraging to read various opinions on HB 4218, which is just one in a series of measures filed in the House to help the music industry.
In 2007 and 2013, bills were filed in the Senate that also sought the increased playing of Filipino music on broadcast media and the formation of a committee on music. The provisions vary, but the intention is the same: to promote the use of and appreciation for original Filipino music.
There is no monopoly of wisdom, and so all perspectives on an issue should be welcomed. Just last March 2, in the first public hearing on HB 4218 (which was filed almost a year ago), a number of vocal opponents presented their views and offered suggestions. These discussions can only strengthen the bill so it may better serve the interests of our artists.
That said, though, I wish to correct some misconceptions in the letter:
- HB 4218 does not give any privilege to any private group. Precisely, the proposal is for a government agency to collect equity fees, and the use of the fees will be determined by a committee composed of representatives of groups with a proven track record in dealing with artists’ concerns.
- Executive Order No. 225 has been in place for years, but it has not been implemented as envisioned for various reasons. Thus, it was recommended that the EO be given more teeth through an act of Congress. Meanwhile, the grant of tax credits is still a proposal and, judging from the March 2 hearing, there is a general agreement that credits should be granted only if the number of OPM songs played within the hour exceeds the minimum provided under the EO. This demonstrates how a law is refined as it goes through the legislative process.
Moreover, HB 4218 departs significantly from EO 225, which mandates the playing of Filipino music on radio only, and only in programs with a musical format. HB 4218, on the other hand, applies to all broadcast media, including television and, arguably, Internet media. The bill also covers all programs, not just those with a musical format.
- On the argument that the government’s collection of equity fees makes such fees taxes, suffice it to say that there is no principle in law or elsewhere that backs such a position. Indeed, almost all government agencies collect fees, from processing fees to licensing fees, and those are not considered taxes.
The letter also mentions that the arts are not a priority for the Aquino administration. Whether that is true or not is irrelevant as far as HB 4218 is concerned. The bill should be judged by its own merit and what it seeks to do.
Let me stress that the bill does not purport to respond to all artists’ concerns. Like most laws, it has a very limited scope. It simply wants broader dissemination and more frequent playing of Filipino music, as well as the institutionalization of the collection of equity fees that have helped numerous artists in need.
The Filipino artist can only benefit from the accomplishment of these objectives. But as I said during the hearing, I am willing to introduce other proposals that will respond to artists’ other specific needs.
The bill is not cast in stone, and it will certainly be improved with deliberations with all stakeholders. These stakeholders will also be asked to take part in the technical working group that will be formed to study the bill further.
We have just taken the first of many steps before we see this bill pass into law. I look forward to fine-tuning it with helpful inputs from concerned sectors.
—TEDDY BRAWNER BAGUILAT, lone representative, Ifugao
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.