Yesterday’s meeting of the Board of the Bikol Foundation for Higher Education (BFHE) was extraordinary. Recently, most of the meetings have been being held in the urbane office of its President Fay Lauraya of Bicol University. Yesterday, however, the setting was the San Bernardino Farm and Resort in rural Calabanga, Camarines Sur. Within this forward-looking Agri-Business facility, a brainchild of Congressman Louie Villafuerte of Camarines Sur, plush cabanas, restaurants and function rooms are nestled between fish ponds, nurseries, groves, and rice fields. Despite its distance and yesterday’s wet weather, it was a great setting for BFHE’s representatives from all over Bicol.
The meeting’s main purpose was to bid farewell to Dr. Dominador Peralta, Jr., who had served Bicol as Region 5 Director of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for all of a complete decade – from December of 2000 to December of 2010. It was a pleasure, sad as these things also are, to give tribute to this civil servant on the threshhold of his voluntary retirement. Throughout the long years of tension between the HEIs of Region V and the Central Administration of CHED, Dr. Peralta always stood by the HEIs of Region V, public and private, mediating their concerns to CHED Central. Today, as many of the BFHE’s protest positions have meanwhile been accepted under the more-enlightened leadership of CHED Chairman Dr. Patricia Licuanan – on the over-burdensome nursing curriculum, on the imperative for tertiary-level general education, on the importance of rationality in the dialogue process between CHED and the HEIs – it is sad to see this veteran civil servant retire. But he has served a full decade, and served his constituency well; he is most deserving of our sincerest thanks. Our hope is that in the youth of his retirement he not just fade into the sunset, but still make his wisdom available to the BFHE and the nation.
A surprise but welcome guest participant in the meeting was Congressman Louie Villafuerte of Camarines Sur.
In an earlier meeting, I had tried to follow up our earlier submission to him of a draft law amending The Professional Regulation Commission Modernization Act of 2000 (RA 8981). This had been submitted to his office in the light of complaints in the Region, echoed and re-echoed in the national representations of the CEAP and the COCOPEA, that the Philippine Regulatory Commission (PRC) seemed to be encroaching on the proper prerogatives of CHED to “reasonably regulate and supervise institutions of higher learning.” Instead of letting CHED do this job, the PRC seemed to be arrogating this function to itself.
At root, however, the problem was not just of the PRC, but of law.
The neuralgic spot in RA 8981 was its Section 11 stating, “All subjects for licensure examinations shall be taught by persons who are holders of valid certificates of registration and valid professional licences of the profession.” The Licensure Exam for Teachers (LET), however, is a known requirement for basic education gurus, the accepted requirement for tertiary education instructors being the Master’s Degree. The PRC position was now demanding that for tertiary students of teacher education they all have passed the LET, even if they are already Masters in Arts or Masters in Science holders.
The suggested remedy: leave the reasonable regulation of tertiary education to CHED. Let PRC regulate professional practice, not professional education.
The draft of “An Act Ammending Section 11 of Republic Act No. 8981, otherwise known as the Professional Regulation Commission Modernization Act of 2000” was re-submitted to Congressman Villafuerte, and well received by him. After its Expanatory Note, it is very succinct:
“Section 1. Section 11 of the Professional Regulation Commission Modernization Act of 2000 is hereby amended to read as follows:
“Section 11: Persons to teach subject for Licensure Examination on all Professions. – The policies, standards and requirements of professional academic programs in the are of faculty as prescribed by the Commission on Higher Education in consulation with the respective professional boards shall be recognized by the Commission and complied with by higher education institutions.”
If this is passed, it would help educators on the tertiary level considerably.
It may be good to note that in COCOPEA’s formal dialogue with PRC, represented then by PRC Commissioner Nilo Rosas, on September 7, 2010 at Far Eastern University, there was agreement between the COCOPEA and the PRC that such an ammendment would be necessary.
Meanwhile, the BFHE Board with its special triple constituency of private HEIs, State Colleges and Universities, and Local Universities and Colleges, unanimously endorsed the draft legislation.
If the Congressman makes good his promise to the BFHE to enlist the support of his collegues in the House and in the Senate and get it approved into law in early 2011, it would be a special Christmas gift to all tertiary-level educators of the country and a happy way to start the new year!