Eddie Garcia widow testifies at House hearing on act advocating safety for TV, film, theater workers

Published January 28, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Ben Rosario

Crew members of a television station who rushed Filipino movie icon Eddie Garcia to a hospital tried to force the 5’11” actor into a tricycle and, when he did not fit in, carried Garcia “like a lechon out to the road” where rescuers waited for a taxicab.

Eddie Garcia and Lilibeth Romero (Facebook)
Eddie Garcia and Lilibeth Romero (Facebook)

Lilibeth Romero, who was Garcia’s partner for 30 years, gave this account of what happened in an accident that killed the multi-awarded actor, saying his death was clearly “caused by gross negligence, unsafe working environment” and absence of “first aid” or emergency personnel at the shoot for a television drama series last year.

Testifying before the House committee on labor and employment, Romero vowed to fully cooperate with legislators as they try to craft a law that would guarantee the safety and welfare of persons working in the television and movie industry.

In her testimony, Romero urged lawmakers to make Garcia’s death on June 8, 2019 a strong reason for passing the measure to protect entertainment industry workers.

Her son, House Deputy Speaker (DS) Michael Romero, filed House Bill No. 0181 proposing to create occupational safety and health standards (OSHA) for the film, television, and theater industry.

“This bill will ensure guidelines for the safety, welfare, and well-being of all working in the television and/or in the movie industry, and the theater,” she said.

Garcia, 89, died in a freak accident that took place during the shooting of a regular television drama series aired by GMA-7 Network.

In the hearing, the actor’s partner noted that GMA-7 findings of the accident indicated that Garcia “stubbed his left shoe on the uneven portion of the cemented ground”  and lost his balance.

“Categorically, I state that Eddie Garcia’s death was caused by gross negligence, unsafe working environment, absence of an expert medic and crowd controller, no standby ambulance,” Romero.

“Worse is the handling/mishandling of his body, and worst is trying to fit this 5 feet 11 inches man into a tricycle and when he couldn’t fit into it, carried him like a lechon out to the road and waited for a taxi,” she lamented.

In HB 0181 or the Eddie Garcia Act, DS Romero proposed the enforcement and implementation of safety protocols and measures in the film, television, and theater industries.

The senior administration solon said HB 0181 proposes a mandatory insurance coverage plan for the workforce of the film, television, and theater industries.

The firms or producers involved are also mandated to pay the full hospitalization bills of workers and employees injured during filming or taping.

Producers are tasked to identify, monitor, and reduce the risk associated with workplace hazards, defined as any aspect of work that causes health and safety risk and has potential harm to individuals.

The bill also mandates the industries to formulate safety protocols for emergency operational scenarios in connection with the use of explosives, pyrotechnics, propane, open flames, smoke and fog, and motorcycles, among others.

Penalties and sanctions for violations include a fine of not less than P100,000 per day until violations are corrected.