Without board exams, Filipino professionals cannot qualify for local, int’l job markets—Villanueva

Published July 8, 2021, 4:18 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Joel Villanueva on Thursday, July 8 said the country’s professional licensure system should remain as Filipino professionals would have a hard time making it to local and international job markets if they do not pass the board examinations.

Villanueva, who chairs the Senate Committee on Labor and Employment, made the statement after Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III floated the idea of scrapping the board exams, particularly for nurses and other professionals, due to the high cost of studying and taking the test.

The senator said that despite the struggles of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) to hold these certification tests the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, licensure examinations are still the benchmark that can boost the credibility of Filipino workers locally and internationally.

“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,” Villanueva said in a statement.

“Hindi po makakapagpractice ang ating mga professionals dahil hindi sila (They won’t be able to practice their profession if they are not) 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,” he added.

“If tech-voc graduates, like mechanics who fix cars, require TESDA certification, how much more for doctors who will repair hearts?” Villanueva pointed out.

The lawmaker said this is precisely why he filed Senate Resolution No. 661 which seeks to help PRC identify alternative ways of conducting board exams amid the pandemic and the new normal, and not to abolish the commission.

He also reminded that under the PRC Modernization Law of 2000, the Commission is 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 lamented the PRC’s inability to implement a computerized licensure examinations is now troubling the graduating class of 2020, especially during this time of a pandemic .

“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.

While he understands Bello’s sentiment that urgent reforms are needed to make the exams more accesible to takers the government cannot afford to “totally remove the certifying process because it will be unfair to our people.”

“And (it) 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 explained.

“The repercussions of this proposal, if adopted, will also harm the overseas Filipino workers (OFW) brand, as many of them were able to land jobs abroad because of a good reputation of having been properly certified,” he reiterated.