Bill seeks to impose fees on foreign artists

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Saturday, March 22, 2014


A BILL has been filed in the House of Representatives seeking to impose mandatory Reciprocal Equity Fees on foreign artists who want to perform in the country.

House Bill 4218, or the proposed "Original Pilipino Music (OPM) Development Act of 2014," seeks to strengthen the equity country's system in which, foreign acts are mandated to pay a certain fee before they are permitted to hold concert or stage performances.

Bill author Ifugao Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat said foreign acts take away sponsorships as well as jobs from the local artists.

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Baguilat said the measure aims to safeguard the interests of Filipino musical artists, adding that the influx of foreign performers in the recent years has made popularizing Original Pilipino Music (OPM) among Filipinos a "colossal challenge."

"It would not be good if Filipinos will know more about foreign artists and music than appreciate their [our] own… [We] should take measures to protect our local artists and further promote Filipino music," the lawmaker said.

Singer/songwriter Noel Cabangon said the local artists do not discourage foreign performance in the country as long as the homegrown talents are given what is due to them.

"We're not against foreign performers who come in here, pero kailangan rin nating i-address yung displacement of economic opportunity that arises when the foreign artists are here… hindi lang mga Filipino artists ang apektado kapag may [foreign acts] dito dahil pati yung mga local producers, nawawalan rin ng income due to the loss of commercial sponsors," Cabangon said.

The Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM) has been collecting equity fees from foreign performers for years in accordance with their Memorandum of Agreement with the Bureau of Immigration.

Under the MOA, every foreign performer, choreographer or member of the production staff who are part of a musical production pays P5,000 each.

Cabangon noted that while the group has been able to collect the fee most of the time from compliant concert producers, they can't impose the rule on producers of foreign musicals and other related productions in the absence of a law requiring all artistic performers to pay equity fees.

"Hirap kaming maningil. Marami nang producers na hindi nag-comply. Yung producer ng Wicked at Phantom of the Opera, hindi nagbayad noong fee dahil sabi nila play 'yon [at hindi concert]," he said.

The equity fee collected by OPM goes to its Singers' Welfare Fund, which subsidizes the medical and legal needs of the organization’s members.

Under Baguilat's bill, the mandated equity fee that will be collected depends on the equity fee being collected in the performer's country of origin.

"Halimbawa nito sa US (United States), 'pag dating ng mga performers natin dun, sinisingil agad ang mga foreign acts dun ng $10,000 each. So kung sila naman ang pupunta dito, eh katumbas or equivalent din sa nasabing amount in our currency ang dapat nilang bayaran pag nag perform sila dito sa Pilipinas," the lawmaker said. (Sunnex)

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