Labor chief proposes scrapping board, bar exams

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 7) — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III believes there’s a need to review the necessity of holding professional licensure examinations.

In a media briefing on Wednesday, Bello proposed that the country do away with board and bar exams, saying the several years of education and the accompanying tests students go through before graduating are enough to prepare them for work.

Bello said he also floated the idea during a meeting with the Philippine Nurses Association and the Board of Nursing. He added he is considering recommending the measure to Congress.

“Sabi ko pag-aralan niyo ‘yan, and then we can recommend to Congress na tanggalin na ‘yang exam exam na ‘yan. Gastos sa ating mga nurses [I told them to review it and then we can recommend to Congress to remove those examinations. That’s only additional expenses for our aspiring nurses],” he said.

The same thing applies to other professions, such as law, engineering, and dentistry, according to Bello.

Katakot-takot na pag-aaral ‘yan [They have already gone through intense studying],” he said. “Imagine, ‘yung eight years of studies mo [your eight years of studies] will be brought to naught just because you failed in passing the bar. Wala akong nakikitang katarungan doon eh [I don’t see any justice in that].”

Further explaining his proposal, Bello said schools already accredited by the Commission on Higher Education should be trusted that they can produce competent graduates.

Should he become part of the nation's legislative branch, Bello said the proposal would probably become his “pet bill.” He later on added, however, that he still hasn’t made up his mind if he will run in the 2022 elections.

Meanwhile, Sen. Risa Hontiveros urged Bello to hold consultations on the importance of licensure examinations as he himself is from a profession requiring one before serving the community.

"Tanungin muna nila yung professional communities of those professions, the law, medicine," Hontiveros told CNN Philippines' The Source on Thursday. "What purpose do those board exams, the bar exams play? Baka more essential than what the good Secretary thinks considering na galing din siya sa isa sa mga propesyong iyon din."

[Translation: These exams might be more essential than what the good Secretary thinks, considering that he also came from one of those professions.]

Bello is also a seasoned lawyer who earned his Bachelor of Laws degree in 1970 from Ateneo de Manila University before serving a number of positions in government.