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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Letter to PRC Chair Hon. Ret. Justice Nicolas Lapeña Jr.

Right after I finished writing the Minutes of the Meeting of the IPCAP Board of Trustees, I decided to finish my letter to the PRC Chair. We were to have a meeting with Dr. Nilo Rosas at the PRC, hence it was just right that I submit the letter to him and copy furnish the PRBGC. Although I forgot to put in the date of my submission this afternoon, I hope PRC will place that in their logbook since both copies were received today, Oct. 8, 2008. This is a case between ACTIVE PRACTICE vs. ORGANIZATIONAL MEMBERSHIP which in no way is required in the law. Do share with fellow Guidance Counselors about this matter so we get ourselves updated about these developments. And let us pray that we get a favorable reply. I believe we who have been helping people need all the help we can get from people who have the ability to help us. Happy reading!

Oct. 8, 2008

Hon. Nicolas Lapeña Jr.
Secretary
Professional Regulations Commission
P. Paredes St., Sampaloc Manila

Dear Hon. Lapeña,

Peace!

I personally write you to seek help for our Guidance and Counseling profession which has been effectively legitimized under Republic Act No. 9258 or the “Guidance and Counseling Act of 2004”, signed into law by the current President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on March 2004. I have myself just taken my oath as registered Guidance Counselor last Sept. 28, 2008 at the Manila Hotel, Teacher’s Day in China as it is also the day when we remember the sage Confucius. I used to work in Christ the King Seminary as Guidance Counselor, teaching psychology subjects there, and handling the admission procedures (test administration, scoring, feedback) of the seminary; I also did counseling and consulting at the Sarnelli Center for Street Children in Baclaran, Parañaque City. At the moment I am based here in Catholic Trade preparing for my dissertation in Counseling Psychology at the De La Salle University. I am a lifetime member of the Philippine Association for Counselor Education, Research and Supervision (PACERS), having served in its Board from 2004-2008, and had served as its President for the past two years (I finished my term already as stipulated in our PACERS Constitution). I am also the Secretary of the Integrated Professional Counselors Association of the Philippines (IPCAP), Inc., a duly SEC-certified professional organization of licensed and registered Guidance Counselors, indorsed by the Professional Regulation Commission for SEC registration. I run a blog named Counseling Psychology in the Philippines (counpsychphil.blogspot.com) which people all over the world have accessed for purposes which they find in it. This letter itself shall be found in the said blog after it shall have been received properly.

At the moment, the Guidance and Counseling profession has no legitimate Accredited Professional Organization (APO) accredited by the PRC. This was evident in the Program distributed to us at the Oath Taking Ceremonies for the 3rd Batch of Licensees under the Grandfather’s Clause or Section 14 of R.A. 9258, and the 1st batch of Guidance and Counseling Board Exam passers. We are aware that the PGCA is the INTERIM APO or IAPO as stipulated in the Rules and Regulations of R.A. No. 9258. However, even this title was not used, further raising questions about the organization’s qualification to be one, which was raised when its former President Dr. Rosa Ma. I. Llanes, RGC went to pay for its APO dues at the PRC sometime last year 2007.

Despite this fact, the PGCA has been the sole provider of the two certificates of Active Membership and Good Moral Character (GMC). I would remember that there were revisions in this matter starting with the 2nd batch. The 1st batch of oath takers under the Grandfather’s Clause were required to attend two PGCA events, one National (either a National Convention or Midyear) and one Local (any PGCA local chapter) and had to register as member, in order to merit the said certificates required in filing at the PRC under the Grandfather’s Clause (Sec. 14) of R.A. No. 9258. For the 2nd and 3rd batches, and even until now, the “local” requirement was reconsidered in such a way that participation in any of the events sponsored by any of the existing Guidance and Counseling (GC)-related organizations, e.g., PACERS (Philippine Association for Counselor Education, Research and Supervision; PACC (Philippine Association for Christian Counseling), CDAP (Career Development Association of the Philippines), etc. may replace the PGCA local chapter event. Certificates of active membership from any of these said organizations, together with membership fee (P500) and certification fee (P100) paid to PGCA were required instead to satisfy the RR’s stipulation, something which may have gone beyond what is basic in complying with the law. For indeed, under what reason or legitimate basis must every Grandfather’s Clause applicant be required to become a member in an organization which has not yet the official documents as the PRC’s Accredited Professional Organization? Sad to say but we missed to raise this question before in our individual efforts to gather our requirements and qualify to be granted the PRC ID as RGC.

Now, in the 4th batch of applicants for the Grandfather’s Clause, touted to be the last batch before the period of the Grandfather’s Clause finally ends on January 26, 2009 (some say it’s March 2, 2009?), many applicants may not be able to satisfy the requirement of attending the PGCA events, much less other GC-related organizations’ sponsored events, thereby closing on them the chances to be licensed under Sec. 14 of the law. This begs the question about the legitimacy of the said requirement, namely that the certificates of active membership and GMC be provided by PGCA which is not the APO.

Reading thoroughly the law gives one the realization that Sec. 14 or the Grandfather’s Clause of R.A. 9258 does not require from practicing and academically-qualified applicants active membership in any organization. Let me cite the pertinent provision herein (my italics):

Article III Sec. 14 of R.A. No. 9258 Registration Without Taking Licensure Examination states: “A person who possesses the pertinent qualifications required for admission in the examination for registration as a guidance counselor pursuant to the provisions of this Act may be registered without examination: Provided, That the applicant files with the Board within two (2) years after its creation, an application for registration and issuance of a Certificate of Registration and Professional Identification Card by submitting credentials showing that the applicant before the effectivity of this Act:

a) Had been doctoral and masters degree holders in Guidance and Counseling with at least three (3) years of teaching experience in Guidance and Counseling courses and/or full-time counseling practice for the same period;

b) Had passed at least eighteen (18) units of Master’s level courses in Guidance and Counseling such as Counseling Techniques/Theories, Organization and Administration of Guidance Services, Tests and Measurements, Group process, Counseling and Career Guidance Counseling; and have at least seven (7) years of experience in counseling work; and

c) Had completed academic requirements for a master’s degree in guidance and counseling and have five (5) years experience as full-time guidance counselors.


I am conscious of the powers, functions, duties and responsibilities of the Board which are stipulated in Article II Sec. 5 of the law. Concededly, among these would include paragraphs (b), (i), (r) and (s). Let me quote them as follows (my italics):

Sec. 5. Powers, Functions, Duties and Responsibilities of the Board. The Professional Regulatory Board shall have the following specific powers, duties and responsibilities:

(b) Determine and evaluate the qualifications of the applicants for registration with or without licensure examinations and for issuance of special permits;
(i) Promulgate …administrative policies, orders and issuances, to carry out the provisions of this Act;
(r) Adopt such measures necessary and proper for the maintenance of high ethical and professional standards in the practice of the profession; and
(s) Perform such other functions and duties as may be necessary to effectively implement this Act.


In applying these said powers, functions, duties and responsibilities of the Board, the PRBGC had not considered the fact that even in Sec. 13, Qualifications for Examinations, no organizational membership is ever required for those who are to take the Board Exams in Guidance and Counseling.
None of the above mentioned powers grants the Board the right to omit a portion of the law, namely the beginning of Sec. 14 Article III which alludes to Sec. 13 Article III of R.A. No. 9258. Let me quote in here this said portion of R.A. No. 9258:

Article III Sec. 13. Qualifications for Examinations. In order to qualify for the examination, an applicant must, at the time of filing the application, be:
(a) a citizen of the Republic of the Philippines or a foreigner whose country has reciprocity with the Philippines in the practice of Guidance and Counseling;
(b) has not been convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude by a competent court; and
(c) holder of a Bachelor’s degree in Guidance and Counseling or in other allied disciplines and a master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling from an institution in the Philippines or abroad recognized and accredited by the CHED.

I therefore think that the Board of Guidance and Counseling may have therefore acted in such a way that it has interpreted the law to exclude from having their license ACTIVELY PRACTICING AND ACADEMICALLY-QUALIFIED Guidance Counselors who cannot afford (particularly those living in remote areas, poor settings), those who simply had no chance to attend conventions (by will or circumstances), and many others in their particular situations. It is sad to note that the Board of Guidance and Counseling has missed this very essential point of contention evident in Sec. 14 Article III of R.A. No. 9258, namely “A person who possesses the pertinent qualifications required for admission in the examination for registration as a guidance counselor pursuant to the provisions of this Act may be registered without examination.” Does this therefore constitute a violation of the law by way of omission? Herein cited in toto is the particular portion of the Rules and Regulations they implemented 15 days after its publication in the Manila Standard newspaper last Sept, 2007 (my italics):

The Rules and Regulations of R.A. No. 9258 or “RR of R.A. No. 9258” Rule III Sec. 14 Registration Without Examination states: “The Board shall grant to any person who possesses the pertinent qualifications which will be evaluated and approved upon application and payment of the required fees a Certificate of Registration and Professional Identification Card as a Guidance Counselor without taking the Licensure Examination who … possesses the requirements contained in Sec. 14 of R.A. No. 9258, and who qualifies under any of the following three (3) categories:

a. Had been a Doctoral or Masteral degree holder in guidance and counseling with at least three (3) years of teaching experience in guidance and counseling courses and/or full time counseling practice for the same period;

b. Had passed at least eighteen (18) units of Masteral level core courses in guidance counseling such as Counseling Theories, Tools and Techniques, Organization and Administration of Guidance Services, Psychological Tests and Measurement, Group Process/Group Facilitating, and Career Guidance; and have at least seven (7) years of experience in counseling work;

c. Had completed academic requirements for a master’s degree in guidance and counseling and had five (5) years as full-time guidance counselor/part time guidance counselor with officially designated teaching load in guidance and counseling.

The following documents in addition to (a) to (e) enumerated in Sec. 13 hereof (Certificate of Live Birth from the NSO, in Security Paper; Marriage contract from the NSO in Security Paper [for married female applicants]; college diploma with indication therein of graduation date and S.O. number unless it is required; T.O.R with indication therein of date of graduation and S.O. unless the latter is not required; and NBI clearance) shall be submitted in support of the above requirements:

1. Certificate of Good Moral Character from the employer, and two other certifications in his his/her community one of which must be issued by the Barangay Captain/Chairman in the community where the applicant resides or works;
2. Ombudsman and NBI clearance for government employed applicants or NBI clearance for private-employee applicants;
3. A Certificate of Active Membership and Good Moral Character from the Accredited Professional Organization (APO) to be issued by the President and two (2) other officers; and
4. Two (2) copies of Passport size I.D. pictures with name tags.

Those who qualify under any of the foregoing categories shall be given two (2) years starting from the creation of the Board of Guidance and Counseling (January 26, 2007) within which to apply for registration without examination under Sec. 14, Art. III of R.A. No. 9258.


Note again that the conditions set at the beginning of Sec. 14 have been sordidly missed out, making the Board impose a requirement that was not even intended in the law!

Having all these considered, after a phone conversation-cum-consultation with current Board of Guidance and Counseling member Dr. Luz Guzman, 1st RGC of the land, imbued with compassion and spirit of justice for our fellow practicing yet deserving but currently unlicensed Guidance Counselors in the country who desire to follow the law, may I therefore present the following to your Commission’s attention and serious consideration:

1. That this said requirement in the Rules and Regulations (Rule III, Sec. 14 c 3) be lifted, namely A Certificate of Active Membership and Good Moral Character from the Accredited Professional Organization (APO) to be issued by the President and two (2) other officers based on the following reasons:

a. Sec. 14, Article III of R.A. 9258 inheres a certain generosity Grandfathers have in granting the license to those practicing Guidance Counselors who have satisfied the required years of practice and academic requirements. Membership in any organization is nowhere alluded to nor essentially required for getting one’s license and continue one’s professional practice in Guidance and Counseling, nowhere in this pertinent Section, and neither in Sec. 13. What needs to be emphasized here, which the Grandfather’s Clause aims to affirm and support is ACTIVE PRACTICE and not organizational membership, something definitely not essential in qualifying to take Board Exams. While the first portion of Sec. 14 has been missed out, the above mentioned requirement has not been deliberated by the Board in consultation with other GC-related organizations and their members. This may be understandably so since both (including the former late Chair Dr. Rhodelia L. Gabriel) members in the current Board of Guidance and Counseling are lifetime members of PGCA. We would have wanted to see a more consultative Board whom the organizations and their members have access to and may consult with. I just happen to be at the IPCAP deliberations where Drs. Gabriel and Guzman were regular participants upon invitation.

b. The qualified applicant actually already carries with him/her other certificates of good moral character as stipulated in the RR: from one’s employer, parish priest priest (pastor and imam referred here), and one’s barangay Chairperson. The Ombudsman and NBI certificates are also requirements to prove one’s good moral standing in the community, work and faith/religion affiliation. This added requirement may actually be redundant while sometimes viewed as a fund-raising strategy.

c. The PGCA is not the legitimate APO, and for whatever unknown reason appears to refuse to use the title INTERIM APO the RR has granted it. Even at this period of interregnum, or interim period, the designated organization’s roles and functions appear to have been assumed rather than discussed and agreed among other organizations. This favoritism lurking under the “franchise” granted to PGCA to give this redundant document may have actually kept those deserving PRACTICING and ACADEMICALLY-QUALIFIED Guidance Counselors from getting their licenses for many reasons the law says nothing against. Shall the Board of Guidance and Counseling then expend its energies after the interregnum period in chasing and accusing before the courts of the land these said unlicensed but reliable Guidance Counselors who may have lost their chance while there was chance?

2. That the other, more reliable certifications of good moral character from the applicant’s Employer, Religious Leader and Barangay Chair, vis-à-vis the Ombudsman (for government-affiliated applicants only) and NBI certificates stand as sufficient requirements to show one’s good moral standing in the community, Church or religious affiliation, and employment in the country.

3. After the PRC may have decided, convinced of the palpability of the above reasons and the second matter above, and specially because of the emergency status in the law’s implementation, let the Guidance Counselors and Guidance Counseling-related organizations then be informed about whatever changes or rational arrangements the PRBGC and the PRC may deem right to be done. We at IPCAP are willing to help in disseminating and communicating your lawful decision.

Hon. Secretary Lapeña, the Guidance and Counseling profession is urgently in need of your action on this communication. We are grateful to your serious consideration prayed for so sincerely in this letter. May God bless you and your fellow Commissioners. I remain sincerely yours

In the Divine Word,


Sgd Fr. Bernardo R. Collera, SVD RGC
IPCAP Secretary
Cc: PRBGC, IPCAP files and other organizations on request (blogged in counpsychphil.blogspot.com)

5 comments:

kim said...

Great blog

Anonymous said...

thanks for being a prophet in today's world! keep up

Anonymous said...

thanks for being a prophet in today's world! keep up

Maureen said...

We definitely need to pray that what is right and just prevail. It seems that human ambition and power hunger are behind a lot of the events you mentioned. Let us pray too, for humility and truth.
Maureen

Maureen said...

We definitely need to pray that what is right and just prevail. It seems that human ambition and power hunger are behind a lot of the events you mentioned. Let us pray too, for humility and truth.
Maureen