PH Labor Department probing circumstances surrounding accident that killed actor Eddie Garcia

Eddie Garcia poses with his Best Actor award at the 7th Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong on March 18, 2013. (Photo: Philippe Lopez/AFP)
Eddie Garcia poses with his Best Actor award at the 7th Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong on March 18, 2013. (Photo: Philippe Lopez/AFP)

An agency under the Philippines’ Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is now investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of actor Eddie Garcia, who passed away after getting into a freak accident on set.

Garcia was hospitalized on June 8 after he tripped on a cable and fractured his cervical spine while taping for the GMA television series Rosang AgimatHe succumbed to a coma and died on Thursday at the age of 90.

GMA initially released a statement attributed to Garcia’s family that said the actor suffered a heart attack. However, the Garcia family’s spokesperson later clarified that the actor was hospitalized because he tripped on a cable.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III told CNN Philippines today that according to Republic Act 11058 or the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Law, an Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC) officer should have been present during the shoot.

The law states that employers should provide a safe workplace for its workers and should even have certified health professionals during high-risk situations.

“You make the workplace safe and compliant with health standards,” Bello said. “They (OSHC officials) will inspect if they (GMA) treated Mr. Eddie Garcia properly. If there were a safety and health officer, he might have been given the proper treatment after that accident.”

If the investigation shows that GMA violated the law, they could end up paying a fine of as much as PHP100,000 (US$1,947) for every day that they violated the law. The government could even order them to suspend their operations.

Bello said that the investigation is being led by OSHC executive director Noel Binag, reported the Manila Bulletin. 

The OSHC is a department under the DOLE created in 1987 that provides expertise to improve the conditions of workplaces in the country. It aims to protect Filipino workers against accidents and illnesses in their workplaces.

Bello’s announcement was welcomed by the labor group Federation of Free Workers. According to its vice president Julius Cainglet, the set of a television series is considered a workplace and the actors and crew are the producers’ employees, reported The Philippine Daily Inquirer. 

He added that the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Law also covers the entertainment industry and should be taken seriously.

“It is not intended for the manufacturing and construction industries only. It is intended for implementation and application in all industries, showbiz included,” Cainglet said.

Garcia’s death was met with shock and sadness by the entertainment industry and the Filipino public. He started working in showbiz in 1950 and was part of more than 600 movies as an actor and director.

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