THE Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) has created a program to assist audio-visual workers displaced by the suspension of work due to COVID-19.
“The FDCP DEAR (Disaster/Emergency Assistance and Relief) Program is not a one-off initiative. Though this was inspired by the COVID-19 crisis, we want to learn from this and make sure that the agency is better prepared in handling such cases in the future. As a permanent program of the FDCP, this disaster fund will be activated every time there is an emergency and the State of Calamity declared by the President,” FDCP Chairperson and CEO Mary Liza B. Dino, said in a statement on Monday.
The council noted that many of the workers in the audio-visual (AV) industry — mostly the freelancers, which include talents, production staff, and technical crew members — are paid on a “per day” basis and follow a “no work, no pay scheme,” and are thus left without means to support themselves while the crisis continues.
The program will include audio-visual workers registered in the FDCP National Registry “which maintains the database of the different sectors of the audio-visual industry including AV industry workers” and “provide assistance in accessing social services, skills development workshops and program, basic legal assistance, and work opportunities,” according to the statement.
The DEAR program will provide “financial assistance to disaster-affected freelance AV workers who suddenly lost work as a direct result of a major disaster,” and is meant to complement the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) which covers private companies whose employees regardless of status (regular, contractual, project-based).”
Those qualified for the program are AV workers who have suddenly become unemployed for at least seven working days as a direct result of a major disaster and are not eligible for other government-instituted benefits. A flat-rate financial assistance of P8,000 will be given to those with approved application and is for one-time only.
Those who are not part of the registry may apply for both the program and the registry concurrently.
“FDCP emphasizes that DEAR benefits are not payable to individuals who are entitled to or qualified for regular unemployment compensation, waiting period credit, or benefits from the DoLE, Social Security System (SSS), their local government unit, their own employer, and similar agencies,” the statement read.
The FDCP aims to give financial aid to 2,000 AV workers on its initial launch and priority will be given to low-income individuals such as technical crew and production staff.
“The FDCP guarantees that it will be working to get more funds and hopes to expand its support to as many as 20,000 freelance AV workers to cover the other sectors of the industry through the program,” it said.
“The audio-visual industry is unique. While we have the regular employees that can be covered by government instituted programs, there is the 70% of the workers in this industry who are not under an employer-employee relationship, without 13th-month pay and leave credits. It’s FDCP’s goal to make sure that they are not left behind. They may not have an employer to run to, but they should have us, the government, that they can turn to in these hard times. It’s time to band as one so we can look after our industry. We can weather this pandemic together,” Ms. Dino said.
In exchange for the assistance, FDCP beneficiaries “must commit to rendering return service by participating in at least two FDCP-led or FDCP-supported events, activities, or projects as a volunteer worker or professional, serving in the capacity of their field.”
“The return service must be rendered for free within two years upon the receipt of the DEAR Program assistance,” the council said.
For more information on the requirements for the program and other inquiries, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://fdcp.ph/dear-program and the FDCP National Registry Facebook page. — Zsarlene B. Chua