What the FDCP-DOLE Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1 Means for the Film and Audiovisual Industry

February 7, 2020 was a historic day for the film and audiovisual industry in the Philippines because finally, a government issuance governing the working conditions and occupational safety and health of workers in the audiovisual production was finalized.


Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 1, Series of 2020 between the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) was signed by no other than Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and FDCP Chairperson and CEO Liza Diño-Seguerra.


The FDCP-DOLE JMC No. 1 took effect on February 29, 2020, which is 15 days after its complete publication in two national newspapers of general circulation (The Philippine Star and Philippine Daily Inquirer on February 14), and its filing of three copies with the Office of the National Administrative Registrar (ONAR) at the University of the Philippines (UP) Law Center, which also took place February 14, 2020.


As a consideration to all stakeholders in the AV industry, a 60-day transitory period was set beginning February 29 to allow them to make the necessary changes in order to comply with the FDCP-DOLE JMC No. 1.


It has numerous provisions to ensure the quality of working conditions and safeguard the health and safety of audiovisual workers. Among the vital changes called for by the FDCP-DOLE JMC No. 1 are the granting of work contracts, reduction of working hours, having a turnaround time, provision of overtime pay, and having strict occupational safety and health protocols in workplaces.


“This is really a landmark moment in my term as FDCP Chairperson because more than all the programs we have already spearheaded, which are a lot, iba talaga 'yung polisiyang mag-a-apply para sa lahat at makikinabang ang lahat,” remarked Diño-Seguerra, also an awarded stage, television, and film actress.


“I hope this could be the start of how the next hundred years of Philippine Cinema should be which is more progressive, more professionalized, and adhering to standards so that we can attain sustainability,” she added.


DOLE Assistant Secretary Teresita Cucueco remarked during the signing of the joint memorandum circular: “All stakeholders have worked together so that the audiovisual industry will have the optimum working conditions, safety, and health for its workers and for the industry.”


A policy that was a long time coming


Veteran actors Rez Cortez and Leo Martinez showed support for the historic signing at the DOLE Building in Intramuros, Manila. They expressed elation and relief over the finalization of FDCP-DOLE JMC No. 1.


“We’ve been waiting for this for so long. And praise and thank the Lord, ‘yung karapatan na kailangan namin ay naisakatuparan na rin because of this signing,” commented Cortez, now the Movie Welfare Workers Fund (Mowelfund) President.


Martinez, the former Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP) Director General, added: “We started this long, long time ago and we’re very thankful and at the same time very emotional about this signing because we waited so long for this. We have been working at this for too many years already, since I got into the Academy (16 years ago). We’ve been clamoring for this. So, finally, it happened. And I didn’t think it would happen in our lifetime but now, it’s here.”


Singer-songwriter-actor Ice Seguerra, who was also at the signing, felt fortunate and glad to be able to witness such a momentous event for the AV industry. He then called on colleagues to help safeguard the FDCP-DOLE JMC No. 1.


“It’s been a long time coming so I just hope that this can only be the beginning of talagang mas pagmamatiyag. At talagang mas maging aware din tayo that we have to make sure tayo mismo bilang kasama sa industriyang ito, masiguro natin that this will be implemented kasi even if merong mga ganito, if tayo mismo hahayaan nating maabuso rin tayo at mapagkaisahan, wala ring mangyayari. So, it should also start with us,” he said.


With the FDCP-DOLE JMC No. 1 in place, the FDCP and DOLE hope for the cooperation of all stakeholders. Diño-Seguerra pointed out that the FDCP-DOLE JMC No. 1 is crucial in ensuring the approval of other measures proposed for the welfare of film and AV workers.


One of these is House Bill 181, also known as the Eddie Garcia Act, for the proposed occupational safety and health standards act for the film, television, and theater industry of the Philippines. It was recently approved at the subcommittee level.


According to Diño-Seguerra, the FDCP-DOLE JMC No. 1 is a significant point of reference in Technical Working Group (TWG) discussions as well as in the hearings of the House Committee on Labor and Employment and Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development.