Controversial ‘OPM Development Act’ slammed by indie musicians
By Edwin P. Sallan, InterAksyon.com
February 14, 2015 · 6:06 pm
Last year, music industry stakeholders came together for the first ever Pinoy Music Summit with the aim of “making conscious commitments to the development and promotion of original Filipino music” under the theme, “Basta Pinoy, Push Mo Yan”.
Among the highlights of the conference was the announcement of the proposed OPM Development Act of 2014 or House Bill 4218 filed by Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, Jr., which had three major components: 1) the creation of a National Committee on Music (NCM) under the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA); 2) requiring radio stations to play at least four OPM songs per hour; and 3) requiring visiting foreign performers to pay equity fees.
The bill is supported by at least three groups that are among those who organized the Pinoy Music Summit and actively participated in it. They are the Filipino Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Inc. (FILSCAP) currently headed by Noel Cabangon; the Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-Aawit (OPM), led by Ogie Alcasid; and the Asosasyon ng Musikong Pilipino (AMP), headed by Ernani “Jong” Cuenco, who is reported to have expressed some reservations about certain provisions.
As well-intentioned as the bill appears to be on paper, it was almost immediately met with loud opposition from various camps, most notably independent musicians who were not invited to participate in the Pinoy Music Summit.
The same month that the bill was filed, Parokya ni Edgar frontman Chito Miranda tweeted his objections about it particularly on the part about requiring foreign performers to pay equity fees to protect local artists like himself.
OPM president Ogie Alcasid reached out to Miranda and nothing was heard from the latter on the issue since then.
But several groups of independent musicians still don’t want the bill to be passed into law. In a position paper posted in its Facebook page, a group called The Band Alliance identified with former Circus and Rage Band manager Atek Jacinto said the proposed law will set a dangerous “retaliatory” precedent and could lead to “a scenario too catastrophic for any of us to comprehend.”
“If the underlying rationale for enforcing the equity fee rule is that it displaces an economic activity that should have gone to a local Filipino musician, another country like Malaysia can claim the same thing and rationalize a scenario where Filipino musicians will be sent home and local Malaysian musicians only will be hired henceforth.”
To prove its point, the group cited a 2003 incident where about 100,000 “entertainers” in Japan were sent back to the Philippines in one fell swoop by the Japanese government as “a reaction to the US accusation that Japan was engaging in white slavery and human trafficking by allowing Filipinas and eastern Europeans to enter and work in Japan too easily.”
In their own position paper furnished to InterAksyon, another group of indie musicians called Alternatribu took exception to the way the bill was generally worded and its many provisions.
Particularly, the opposition concerns the portion about the establishment of a National Committee on Music and its controversial Accreditation of Guilds (Section 6), which will limit representation to the NCM to only “one accredited guild per category”.
“There is an obvious intention to limit the beneficiaries using an accreditation system. All registered organizations of the Music Industry must benefit from this not only by this few accredited organizations.” This means, Alternatribu theorized, “The lesser beneficiaries, the higher the amount of money they can collect.”
Jazz singer Skarlet Brown, who heads Heart of Music, a non-government organization that seeks to secure and protect the health and livelihood of Filipino musicians, echoes a similar position in her group’s reservations about the bill.
“There are more than 145 Million Pesos in estimated money that comes from equity, sponsors and donations sa OPM, FILSCAP at AMP. Ang total number ng members nila na active 89 sa AMP, 200 sa OPM at wala pang 200 sa Filscap. Humigit kumulang 500 tao lang ang makikinabang. Kung nakikinabang nga sila,” Skarlet pointed out.
Skarlet and other indie musicians recently uploaded this video in expressing their reasons for their opposition to the controversial bill:
In response to these issues, FILSCAP president Noel Cabangon posted a response to The Band Alliance’s position on the bill with regards to the equity rule. Cabangon, who reiterated his invitation to fellow artists to become members of OPM and AMP, pointed out that the money or equity fee “does not directly go to the local artists but rather becomes part of the organizations’ funds.”
“Those funds are then channeled toward activities that help the members, including medical benefits and funeral expenses. These are just some of the benefits from being members of OPM and AMP, which is also why I am encouraging all Filipinos who derive income from singing or playing an instrument to be part of the two organizations, which do have a track record of helping their members and advocating the increased consumption and appreciation of original Filipino music.”
But as much as he also vows to “fight for the right of every Filipino to oppose a piece of legislation if he or she sees that it is detrimental to the development of a specific person, sector or the Filipino people in general,” Cabangon sincerely believes that the passage of HB 4218 “will go a long way in promoting original Filipino music and uplifting the welfare of Filipinos who are involved in our own music’s creation and propagation.”
MANILA, Philippines | Filipino artists in the music industry are divided on a bill seeking to promote original local music by giving it more radio airtime and regulating fees for foreign events in the country.
House Bill No. 4218 or the OPM Development Act seeks to promote local music on radio by mandating the playing at least four OPM songs every hour.
The bill also seeks a Reciprocal Equity Fee, which proposed that prior to any performance in the country, foreign artists will be required to pay an equity fee because they take sponsorship money and jobs away from local acts.
The equity fee collections will be gathered in a fund to be exclusively used for the identification, selection, training and support of musically gifted Filipino children.
The bill, authored by Ifugao Representative Teodoro Baguilat Jr., was tackled on Monday at a hearing by the committee on higher education. The committee created a technical working group to finetune the measure.
“Now, more than ever, where foreign artists dominate the local concert scene, where there is no month in a year where a foreign artist would be holding a performance in the Philippines, where foreign artists compete with each other completely obliterating any competition from local artists, should the Philippines take measures to support and promote its local artists and prevent the imminent death of OPM,” according to the bill’s explanatory note.
During the hearing, singer and composer Ogie Alcasid, lamented the preferential treatment given to foreign artists.
“Yes, there is preferential treatment, you can turn on your radio and you can recognize that,” Alcasid, president of the Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM), said.
Composer and singer Noel Cabangon said recent statistics showed that radio stations play 75 foreign music and 25 percent local music.
Executive Order No. 255, which was issued in July 1987, required all radio stations with musical format programs to broadcast a minimum of four OPM compositions every hour.
However, this was not being followed, and no radio station has been penalized, according to composer and singer Jim Paredes.
Paredes said that OPM charges a P5,000 equity fee for every foreign performer, which includes the dancers, singers, and others who participate in the musical production.
For the musicians, the Asosasyon ng Musikong Pilipino (AMP) collects the equity fee, Cabangon added.
“Whatever we collect, we return it to the members through welfare,” Cabangon added.
OPM said it was supporting the provision of the bill to for the equity fee to be reviewed and to be adjusted from time to time.
“Imagine, we pay, for example Mariah Carey P500,000 for a performance, and yet we collect only P5,000.
Renen de Guia of Ovation Productions said that his company complies with the equity fee inposed by OPM and AMP.
However, he cautioned that the news rates to be imposed by the law should be “fair.”
“We are prepared to pay, but it has to stop somewhere,” he said.
“For example, if we do five weeks of performance and we pay for every performance, then all our money would just go to equity pay,” he added.
The Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) expressed opposition to the bill.
In a statement read by musician Chikoy Pura at the hearing, the group said that the measure “fails to address the long-standing problems within the community of local musicians, performers, and the Philippine music industry in general.”
It said that only two accredited organizations will be entitled to a seat in the proposed executive council to be created when the law is enacted, and would be the same who would benefit from the equity fees.
According to CAP, majority of the Filipino musicians are not represented by OPM and AMP.
“It’s all about the money, not about the music,” it said.
Ogie Alcasid asks critics to attend first hearing for OPM bill
By Edwin P. Sallan, InterAksyon.com
February 17, 2015 · 1:41 pm
Responding to the critics of the proposed OPM Development Act of 2014 or House Bill 4218, singer-songwriter and Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-Aawit (OPM) president Ogie Alcasid is inviting them and all concerned sectors to attend the first hearing of the controversial legislation this coming March 3.
“It’s best that they come and attend (that hearing). This is (for) our industry and the more we hear everyone’s voice, the better,” Ogie told InterAksyon. The hearing will take place at the South Wing Building of the House of Representatives in Quezon City.
Earlier, Alcasid spoke to members of the media during the recent general assembly of OPM at Teatrino in Greenhills where he addressed some of the issues raised against HB 4218. He noted that many of the criticisms are from people who don’t have a full understanding of what the bill is about and what he, FILSCAP president Noel Cabangon and other proponents of the legislation are trying to do.
“They think we’re just doing it for ourselves. We just want to give back. We realized that the industry has a lot of problems so we want to be part of the solution,” he pointed out.
He added that it is totally wrong to say that the bill will prevent foreign artists from performing in the Philippines. “We need them for equity,” he said adding that promoters of visiting Filipino performers in other countries also pays the same.
And no, they’re not getting paid or earning anything from their efforts. “This is a non-stock, non-profit organization. Except for the P2,000 allowance we get each time we hold a meeting, we don’t get paid at all.”
In their own position paper on HB 4218, the independent musicians group, Alternatribu is proposing the adoption of a “Magna Carta of Talents and Workforce of the Philippine Music Industry” which seeks the recognition of industry workers as a “special sector in the Labor Code” subject to similar rights and benefits as other workers.
The proposed Magna Carta also seeks the establishment of a “National Center for Music Industry Worker’s Rights, Welfare and Security similar to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration”.
In a recent Facebook post, Alternatribu is inviting everyone concerned in the music industry to let their voices be heard in opposing the bill on the day of its first hearing in an “event” it dubs, “Let’s Rock The Congress!!! Oppose HB4218!!!”.
With regards to all the comments, opposition and counter-proposals to HB 4218, which is still a long way from becoming a law, Ogie and Noel Cabangon have both stated on the record that they have always encouraged dialogue on the issue.
“I do agree that it’s good to get feedback from all sectors. That is a positive,” Ogie concluded.
Jim Paredes urges critics to help improve controversial HB 4218
By Edwin P. Sallan, InterAksyon.com
March 2, 2015 · 12:57 pm
Singer-songwriter and OPM icon Jim Paredes believes House Bill 4218 (or the OPM Development Act of 2014) can truly protect Filipino artists and enhance the promotion of Filipino music.
Paredes said as much during a recent symposium on “The State of OPM” presented by McJim Classic Leather at the Far Eastern University, where he was one of the speakers along with rapper Gloc 9 and record label manager Jinno Mina.
Jim acknowledged that not all radio stations comply with Executive Order 255 issued by the late president Cory Aquino, which requires them to play a minimum of four OPM songs per hour. He said the passage of HB 4218 authored by Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat will fortify its practice and strict implementation.
Ditto with the bill’s equity provisions requiring visiting foreign performers to pay equity to their local counterparts which is already being practiced in many countries.
With regards to the many objections to the bill by several independent musicians, the outspoken artist said that’s precisely why a hearing is set for the bill this Monday, March 2.
Several groups of indie musicians are expected to troop to the House of Representatives not just to attend the bill’s first hearing but also to express their opposition to it.
But like Ogie Alcasid, Jim is also of the view that a dialogue among everyone concerned will lead to an acceptable final draft of the proposed legislation.
“Nothing is written in stone until the bill is passed. It’s certainly not in its final form, malayo pa yun. That’s why we’re asking everyone concerned, kung anong angal niyo, i-express niyo, pag-usapan natin. Even we have our own questions,” Paredes told InterAksyon and other media after the event.
“Ang nangyayari kasi, people don’t read the entire thing. Somebody speaks against it na hindi naman talagang informed, sakay naman yung iba. As if we’d rather have controversy than read the facts.”
Another big issue being raised against the bill is the portion on the establishment of a National Committee on Music and its controversial Accreditation of Guilds (Section 6), which will limit representation to the NCM to only “one accredited guild per category”.
Three groups supporting House Bill 4218, namely the Filipino Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Inc. (FILSCAP) currently headed by Noel Cabangon; Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-Aawit (OPM), led by Alcasid; and the Asosasyon ng Musikong Pilipino (AMP) are likely to be accredited in their respective categories.
Critics of the bill are saying that non-members of these groups will not reap the benefits of this legislation. Paredes said the solution to that is to just simply become a member.
“The idea of a guild everywhere in the world is that you get together in to be able to share the benefits. Say, our OPM cannot spend the money paid by its members for, say, a singer who had an accident in Baguio but is not a member, because we are a guild that helps each other. Now if we all become members, that would make us stronger,” he pointed out.
Citing an example where a member benefitted from joining OPM, Paredes recalled a singer who was hospitalized that was immediately given P30,000.
“Member siya eh. The thing is, we cannot speak for people who are not organized. Even the government will not stand for people who are not organized. The more organized you are, the more you’ll get the benefits.”
He added that if indie musicians find OPM’s already reasonable annual membership fee P1,000 as too steep, then they can form their own organization. However, that may necessitate an amendment to the bill to recognize them as a separate category in order to be accredited as a guild by the proposed National Committee on Music.
Even with all these debatable issues, Paredes concedes that given that there are only several months before the term of President Noynoy Aquino ends, even he is not sure if the bill will become law in time, given that other important legislation like the Freedom of Information bill and the equally controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law are also pending in Congress.
But he also believes that it is very important for the bill to be passed while Aquino, who he said is very supportive of OPM and personally attended last year’s first “Pinoy Music Summit,” is still president.
“Ang sa akin lang, why not strike while the iron is hot, while we are still under a friendly administration. Pag pumasok na ang bagong administration at hindi nito priority ang culture and the arts, we’re going to have to wait, what, another six or 12 years again.”