THE SENATE on Monday passed on third and final reading a bill establishing the Philippine Creative Industry Development Council, which is tasked with promoting the development of creative content and protecting creators from intellectual property infringement.

Senate Bill 2455 or the Creative Industries Charter of the Philippines was passed unanimously with 21 affirmative votes, no negative votes and no abstentions. The council is tasked with managing the industry’s long-term development.

The council, which will be attached to the Department of Trade and Industry, will have 18 members, nine from the private sector and nine from various government agencies. The members will draft and implement a Philippine Creative Industries Development Plan which must be submitted to the President within a year after the effectivity of the act and reviewed every three years.

They must also harmonize plans and programs with National Government agencies that operate in the culture and arts spheres, while constantly consulting with accredited business support organizations and creative associations.

The bill, if signed, will provide infrastructure, research and development, and innovation support to the creative industry.

Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and other stakeholders will also be granted access to digital services and digital training platforms, along with technical and financial assistance.

Government-owned, -controlled, or -supported financial institutions will be required to prioritize creative industries in the provision of credit assistance and guarantee schemes. A creative voucher system will be established to systematize the granting of support, aid, and other incentives to such entities.

Upon signing into law, the measure will require government agencies to devise a creative educational plan geared towards the development of the country’s creative-industry human resources.

A one-stop registration center will be set up to assist creative industry MSMEs and entrepreneurs avail of applicable government services including intellectual property registration, product and business registration, loans, grants and benefits programs.

A special account called the creative industry development fund will be made and administered by the council for research and development, trade promotion, and human resource development. It will source funds from loans, contributions, grants, bequests, gifts, and donations, whether from local or foreign sources.

Creative industries covered by the bill include audio and audiovisual media; digital interactive media; creative services; design; publishing and printed media; performing arts; visual arts; traditional cultural expressions; and cultural sites.

The House of Representatives passed its bill on final reading in September last year. The bill will now be sent to the appropriate bicameral committee for consolidation.

Separately, the Senate also passed a bill regulating private security agencies (PSA) on third and final reading.

With 21 affirmative votes, Senate Bill 2423 was passed unanimously. If signed into law, the measure repeals Republic Act 5487 and establish a new set of quality standards for PSAs.

“The urgency of this bill is not to be found on the surface,” said Senator Ronald M. dela Rosa, primary sponsor of the bill, during the plenary session. “Instead, its urgency lies in the almost unseen, seldom appreciated actions of its stakeholders — our security officers, our security guards, all of our security professionals.”

“By saying yes to this measure, we are giving the industry the legislative support which has been lacking all this time, when it was relying on a law that was 52 years old,” he added.

The bill set a cap of 2,000 for a PSA’s security personnel, and recognizes Filipinos or juridical entities as eligible to organize a PSA. Licenses to operate and manage a PSA and a Private Security Training Agency are to be issued by the head of the Philippine National Police and are valid for five years.

The bill also sets a minimum administrative fee charged by PSAs of at least 20% of the total contract cost, with additional fees to be charged for the acquisition and maintenance of equipment needed for security operations and the deployment of professionals in hazardous conditions.

Each professional will only be allowed one firearm and will be licensed for five years.

Penalties for violators have been set at a maximum of six years’ imprisonment or a fine of up to P1 million, or both. Licenses are also subject to cancellation or suspension, with the forfeiture of the bond posted by the license applicant.

The House of Representatives passed the bill on third reading in March last year. The bill will now go before the bicameral conference committee. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan