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Monday, August 11, 2008

In Search of an Accredited Professional Organization (A.P.O) for the Guidance & Counseling Profession In the Philippines

The Integrated Professional Counselors Association of the Philippines (IPCAP), Inc. has been organized in response to the professionalization of the Guidance and Counseling in the Philippines as mandated in the Republic Act 9258 or the “Guidance and Counseling Act of 2004.” I was one of those who responded to the call of then PGCA President Dr. Rosa Ma. Llanes in her letter addressed to all Guidance and Counseling-related organizations. Six such organizations responded, namely the PGCA, PACERS, PACC, GCP, CDAP, and PAPSHP-PNU. A new organization was born this year 2008 from this development, the Family and Pastoral Counseling Association of the Philippines (FPCAP). The RGS COmmunity (Religious of the Good Shepherd congregation of nuns) has always participated in our meetings as well. We first looked into the previous and failed attempts at organizing into a federation of these organizations. As it has been observed that RA 9258 requires no federation, but in Article III Section 21 “a one (1) and only registered and accredited national organization of registered licensed guidance counselors,” the group came together with zeal, always having mind the development of the Guidance and Counseling profession and its practitioners. I have presented this matter at the 2007 PGCA Annual Convention at the Great Eastern Hotel in Quezon Ave., Quezon City.

After having been duly indorsed by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) on July 11, 2008, the IPCAP was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last July 18, 2008 and bears the Certificate of Incorporation No. CN200811283. It was also granted a Certificate of Registration No. OCN3RC0000407916 issued exactly five days after, on July 23, 2008 its SEC Certification. With its Official Receipts printed and the corresponding journal of accounts ready, the IPCAP is right on its toes to serve the profession and its licensed and registered practitioners. It hopes to be granted a Certificate of Accreditation as APO by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) at the right time.

It is thus in view of this process that this article is written so that whatever steps the APO takes is legitimate, documented, and not merely a tacit reality which may be open to steps beyond its boundaries. In order to understand what it is, I would like to address in a two-part series the following questions: where is the term APO mentioned in the law (RA 9258) and its implementing Rules and Regulations (R.R. of RA 9258) promulgated by the Professional Regulatory Board of Guidance and Counseling? What can it do for the profession and its practitioners?

I. The APO as specifically mentioned in the law (RA9258)


The “accredited professional organization” or APO is mentioned eight (8) times in RA 9258. It first gets mentioned as such or verbatim in Article II Section 5d (Please read its context below). However, in an earlier provision, namely Article II Section 4, an “accredited and integrated organization of guidance counselors” is mentioned. These terms basically refer to the same entity which is mandated to exist in the law on Guidance Counseling. Article II Section 4 describes the APO as supposedly required to submit to the PRC a list of five (5) nominees for each position of the Professional Regulatory Board of Guidance Counseling (PRBGC). From this list of five (5) nominees, the PRC submits to the President of the Philippines three (3) recommendees for appointment as Chair, and 2 members of the PRBGC. [The first appointee was Dr. Luz Guzman in 2007. The next two came a few months later, from which one was appointed to be the Chair, the late Dr. Rhodelia Gabriel. The other one is currently the Officer in Charge (OIC), Dr. Lily Rosqueta-Rosales.]

Article II, Section 5d of RA 9258 next mentions the APO in relation to the preparation, adoption, issuance or amendment of the syllabi for the subjects in the licensure examination, acts which are identified In Section 5 as “Powers, Functions, Duties and Responsibilities of the Board ” [referring to the PRBGC]. The APO, together with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the academe are to be thus consulted by the Board for these said ends.

The APO is mentioned for the third time in Article II Section 6(h), in relation to the “Qualifications of the PRBGC members.” Letter (h) of this portion specifies that no member of the PRBGC shall be an official of the “integrated and accredited national professional organization.” It is known however that one of the PRB Members has been a Founding Member of the PGCA.

Article III Section 20 mentions for the fourth time an “accredited professional organization” which the PRBGC coordinates with in relation to keeping “a roster of names, residence and office addresses of all registered and licensed guidance counselors.”

Article III Section 21 mentions the APO for the 5th 6th and 7th times (thus 3x), namely as “a one (1) and only registered and accredited national organization of registered/licensed guidance counselors,” as well as “the said integrated and accredited national organization,” and “integrated organization.”

(a) First, the “one (1) and only registered and accredited national organization of registered/licensed guidance counselors” is supposed to be where “all registered/licensed guidance counselors whose names appear in the roster of guidance counselors” are to be united and integrated through their automatic membership. Further, such “one (1) and only registered and accredited national organization of registered/licensed guidance counselors” is supposed to be recognized and accredited by the PRBGC, subject to approval by the PRC, and “after consultation with all existing organizations of registered and licensed guidance counselors, and, if possible, with all those who are not members of any of the said organizations.”
(b) Second, the “integrated and accredited national organization,” refers to its members who “shall receive benefits and privileges appurtenant thereto upon payment of required fees and dues.”
(c) Third, the “integrated organization” is mentioned in relation to a membership which does not “bar to membership in any other association of guidance counselors.”

The eight and last time that the RA 9258 mentions the APO is in Article V Section 32. The “integrated and accredited professional organization” is that which the PRBGC coordinates with in promulgating “the necessary rules and regulations…to implement the provisions of this Act…”

Note that in all 8 times that the APO is mentioned in the law, it is described and uses the following names:

1. “accredited professional organization” (twice, in Article II Section 5d; Article III Section 20)
2. “accredited and integrated organization of guidance counselors” (Article II Section 4)
3. “integrated and accredited national professional organization” (Article II Section 6[h])
4. “a one (1) and only registered and accredited national organization of registered/licensed guidance counselors,” (Article III Section 21 line 5)
5. “integrated and accredited national organization” (Article III Section 21 line 11)
6. “integrated organization” (Article III Section 21 lines 13 & 14)
7. “integrated and accredited professional organization” (Article V Section 32)

From these aforementioned occasions in the law (RA 9258) may we best understand the roles and functions of the APO. But that is something we can write more about later on.


II. The APO as specifically mentioned in the Rules and Regulations of the law (RA9258) (R.R. of RA 9258)

After the appointment of the members of the PRGBC, the Rules and Regulations of RA 9258 was promulgated and published in the Manila Standard Today dated Sept. 4 & 6, 2007. I remember having alerted via text message on Sept 4, 2007 PGCA President Dr. Llanes and Guidance Circle of the Philippines (GCP) representative at the IPCAP Ms. Avelina Mandin about the said publication’s lacking portion (Section 14c, which were thus corrected on Sept. 6, 2007, hence the two dates when the R.R. was published. I’d like to cite in this portion the occasions when the APO was specified and described in it.

It is important at the outset to mention that the APO is a separate entity clearly distinguished from the interim accredited professional organization or IAPO, which the R.R. of RA 9258 specifies and identifies to be the Philippine Guidance and Counseling Association, Inc (PGCA).

a. The interim accredited professional organization or IAPO is first distinguished specifically in Rule I Section 3f. It is the PGCA, “an organization of guidance counselors.” Furthermore, it is to be “granted by the Commission with a Certificate of Accreditation.” As of this writing on August 11, 2008, the PGCA does not have however this Certificate of Accreditation. Hence, even if it is identified in the R.R. as such, the PGCA lacks this particular distinctive document to legitimately claim itself as the interim accredited professional organization or IAPO.

The second time the interim accredited professional organization or IAPO is mentioned is in Rule II Section 4. It is supposed to provide the PRC a list of five (5) nominees from which the PRC shall submit a list of three (3) recommendees for each position which the President of the Philippines shall appoint.

The third time the interim accredited professional organization or IAPO is mentioned is in Rule II Section 5d. The PRBGC, among its “powers, functions, duties and responsibilities” stipulated in Section 5, is supposed to “prepare, adopt, issue, or amend the syllabi for the subjects in the licensure examination in consultation with the CHED, the Academe, and the IAPO…”

The 4th and last time the interim accredited professional organization or IAPO is mentioned is in Rule V Section 32 line 4. It reads: “Upon the Creation thereof in January 26, 2007, the Board shall, subject to the approval by the Commission, promulgate the necessary rules and regulations in coordination with the Accredited Professional Organization (APO), either the Interim APO…, in implementing the provisions of R.A. No. 9258.”

b. As regards the APO, the R.R. of R.A. 9258 describes it eleven (11) times.

First, in Rule I Section 3g, Definition of Terms, the “Registered and Accredited Integrated National Organization of Registered and Licensed Guidance Counselors,” is specified distinctively as “the one and only integrated national organization of registered and licensed guidance counselors.” These words look so similar to what R.A. 9258 specified in Article III Section 21. It is to be “accredited by the Board subject to the approval by the Commission, issued thereby with a Certificate of Accreditation as professional organization, and known as the Accredited Professional Organization (APO).” As of this writing, there is no specific organization which has received from the PRC a “Certificate of Accreditation as professional organization.” It is however important to cite that the IPCAP has been granted by the PRC an indorsement letter, a “certification of non-objection” for IPCAP to be duly registered and incorporated with the SEC as a professional organization. However, it is not yet the coveted Certificate of Accreditation, as there are provisions which IPCAP must fulfill as specified in PRC Resolution No. 178 Series of 2004.

The second time the R.R. of R.A. 9258 mentions the APO is in Rule II Section 4. Here, the task of submitting to the PRC a list of five (5) nominees from which the PRC recommends three (3) for Presidential appointment to the PRB. Here, “the registered and accredited integrated national organization of registered and licensed guidance counselors,” is used as in the Definition of Terms.

The third time the APO is mentioned is in Rule II Section 5d, and the acronym “APO” is used such that the Board, among its “powers, functions, duties and responsibilities” as specified in this portion, is supposed to “prepare, adopt, issue or amend the syllabi for the subjects in the licensure examination in consultation with the CHED, the Academe, and the IAPO or APO;” Since the two are distinct from each other as set in the Definition of Terms, the APO cannot and should not be confused with the IAPO as seemingly suggested by the “or” in between the two, IAPO and APO.

Rule II Section 6h, the APO is again mentioned for the fourth time and is identified as “the integrated and accredited national organization of guidance counselors” of which any member of the PRBGC should not be its official or Board of Trustees.

In Rule III Section 14c3, the APO is mentioned (for the fifth time) whose “President and two (2) other officers thereof” issue a Certificate of Active membership and Good Moral Character to those who are applying for licensure or “registration without examination” otherwise known as the Grandfather’s Clause. While the PGCA lacks a Certification of Accreditation from the PRC thereby not becoming fully an interim accredited professional organization or IAPO as defined in Rule I Section 3f, it has since the first batch of oath takers been requiring (some say “obliging”) membership in PGCA even as this task is only reserved to the “real” APO, which as of now has not been documentarily supported through a PRC-issued Accreditation Certificate.

Rule III Section 20 mentions the APO (for the 6th time) and spells it out (Accredited Professional Organization) as that which the PRBGC coordinates in keeping “the roster of the names, residences and office addresses of all registered and licensed Guidance Counselors…”

Rule III Section 21, mentions the APO (for the 7th time) as “the one (1) and only registered and accredited national organization” where all registered and licensed Guidance Counselors listed in the roster of Guidance Counselors are to be automatically members of. The APO shall be recognized and accredited by the PRBGC “after consultation with all existing organizations of registered and licensed Guidance Counselors and, if possible with all those who are not members of any of the said organization” subject to approval by the Commission. For the 8th time, the APO is identified as “the said integrated and accredited national organization” whose members are to “receive benefits and privileges appurtenant thereto upon payment of prescribed fees and dues. It is important to again remember that the R.R. of R.A. 9258 reiterates what R.A. 9258 stipulated: “Membership in the accredited integrated national organization (the 9th time the R.R. of R.A. 9258 mentions the APO) shall not be a bar to membership in any other professional guidance association.”

In Rule V Section 32 lines 4-6, the APO or the “Registered and Accredited Integrated National Organization of the Registered and Licensed Guidance Counselors” is specified (for the 10th time) the organization which the PRBGC coordinates with in promulgating the necessary rules and regulations in implementing the provisions of R.A. 9258. It is interesting to note that here in this provision, there is mention of “the Accredited Professional Organizations (APO, 11th and last time), either the Interim APO or the Registered and Accredited Integrated National organization of Registered and Licensed Guidance Counselors.” Either this is a typographical error in itself (the s in the word “Organization”) or there is confusion between the Interim and the “real” APO. The PGCA, as has been noted earlier, “limps” so to say in its being the “interim APO” while it usurps to itself the tasks the “real” APO should be doing.

The APO is described eleven (11) times in the R.R. of R.A. 9258 and uses the following terms:
1. “Registered and Accredited Integrated National Organization of Registered and Licensed Guidance Counselors” (thrice, in Rule I Section 3g; Rule II Section 4 lines 10-11; & Rule III Section 32 lines 4-6)
2. the acronym APO itself (Rule II Section 5d) or spelled out “the Accredited Professional Organization” (twice, in Rule III Section 14c3, and Section 20)
3. “the integrated and accredited national organization of guidance counselors” (Rule II Section 6h)
4. “the one (1) and only registered and accredited national organization” (Rule III Section 21 lines 3-4)
5. “the said integrated and accredited national organization” (Rule III Section 21 lines 8-9)
6. “accredited integrated national organization” (Rule III Section 21 line 11)
7. “the Accredited Professional Organizations” (Rule III Section 32 lines 3-4).

Thus far the actual citations of the APO in the law (RA 9258)and in its Rules and Regulations or R.R. formulated and promulgated by the PRBGC in implementing RA 9258.

My advocacy in this simple study includes the following:
1. That we follow what has been written, comply with every required documentation and act only within the specific documented tasks of our organizations. The law only obliges membership in the duly accredited professional organization. Without a certificate of accreditation issued by the PRC, no organization should aggrandize this role unto itself, no matter how old or numerous it is. The PGCA needs however to be commended in all its efforts to facilitate the integration of all guidance and counseling related organizations that has led to the formation of the IPCAP. The law (RA 9258) and its implementing Rules and Regulations (R.R.) promulgated by the PRBGC are now the norms everyone is to follow, from the Board to PGCA and to all practicing registered and licensed Guidance Counselors. Difficulties and tensions may be met along the way, but while the truth sets us free, we keep in mind that dura lex sed lex. The law sets for us an orderly manner of conducting our services as Guidance Counselors.

2. It should be paramount for us Guidance Counselors to serve with integrity in the profession. I have realized that the Guidance and Counseling profession is one that affords everyone, Counselor and Client alike to be true persons, free and responsible, respectful and empowered, creative models and selfless advocates of justice and equality for all. As Guidance Counselors, we advocate that our clients discover or recover their true self, real and free, in order that one’s being does not have to live in constant need of defense.