Villanueva: Pinoy professionals won't make it to local, int'l job markets without board exams
The country’s professional licensure system should remain, despite the struggles of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) to hold these certification tests the past year due to the pandemic because such assessments boost the credibility of Filipino professionals here and around the world, Senator Joel Villanueva said.
“Despite our disappointment with how the PRC has been failing our graduates with the way they’ve postponed and pushed back scheduled board exams since last year, it is very clear to us that the professional certification exams such as the various boards exam must remain,” said Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee. “Hindi po makakapagpractice ang ating mga professionals dahil hindi sila board certified.”
“It is the final ‘quality control’ check before we allow graduates to practice a profession which depends on the lives of the people—like physicians—or safety of buildings, like engineers. If tech-voc graduates, like mechanics who fix cars, require TESDA certification, how much more for doctors who will repair hearts?”
Villanueva said he filed Senate Resolution No. 661 to help PRC identify alternative ways of conducting board exams amid the pandemic and the new normal, and not to abolish the commission. The lawmaker pointed out that under the PRC Modernization law of 2000, the commission was mandated to shift to full computerization of all licensure examinations by 2003.
“Computerization will also help disaster-proof our professional licensure system, as typhoons and floods often wreak havoc on testing schedules and sites,” he said.
Villanueva said the failed implementation of computerized board exams is now haunting the Graduating Class of 2020, after the pandemic forced the government to implement restrictions on movement, thus affecting the conduct of licensure exams.
“It is the final ‘quality control’ check before we allow graduates to practice a profession which depends on the lives of the people—like physicians—or safety of buildings, like engineers."
“We think there is a lot of room for improvement for the PRC, and to address the problems, we need to evaluate suggestions. If our professional regulatory laws need amending, we’re ready to buckle down to work,” Villanueva said.
The labor committee chair commented on the statement of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III who earlier called to scrap licensure exams for professionals such as nurses. Bello later clarified that he only called to study the proposal.
“We understand the sentiment of Secretary Bello that urgent reforms are needed to make licensure exams more accessible to takers. But we cannot totally remove the certifying process because it will be unfair to our people, and is a betrayal of their trust, as they expect their government to test the knowledge of these professionals if they are indeed qualified to practice,” Villanueva said.
“The repercussions of this proposal, if adopted, will also harm the OFW brand, as many of them were able to land jobs abroad because of a good reputation of having been properly certified,” he continued.
But licensure examination is but one wheel in the big cog of Philippine Qualifications Framework, explained Villanueva who is the principal author of the PQF law or Republic Act No. 10968. The framework sets multiple criteria that measures quality assurance principles and standards of the Filipino professional, technician and craftsman.
“This is the assessment system that gives a full picture of the competencies of our professionals, a portable certification of talents accepted in many countries,” Villanueva said.