“Local engineers, architects, surveyors, accountants and medical practitioners need to register themselves as ‘ASEAN professionals,’” according to Teresita Manzala, chairperson of the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) in a forum organized by the National Academy of Science and Technology, an advisory body of the Department of Science and Technology, last August 13 at the Traders Hotel.

The ASEAN professionals registration is part of the Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRA) to keep professionals competitive within and outside the region as the ASEAN integration pushes through in 2015.

According to Manzala, the MRA will facilitate freer movement of professionals in ASEAN as their education, license, and experience of professionals from their country of origin shall be recognized in other ASEAN member states.

Professions recognized under MRA are surveyors, accountants, architects, doctors, dentists, nurses, and engineers specifically aeronautical, agricultural, civil, chemical, electrical, electronics, geodetic, mechanical, metallurgical, mining, naval architecture and marine, and sanitary engineers.

MRA is in line with the ASEAN Economic Community that seeks to create a single market and production base by 2015 through the free flow of goods, services, investment, capital, and skilled labor.

"Goods, services, investments, and capital don't move by themselves. They are moved by people like you and me," Manzala said at the forum as she emphasized the importance of human resources such as professionals, in achieving the overall objectives of the ASEAN integration.

However, she clarified that the MRA will not reduce, or eliminate the rights, power and authority of each ASEAN member state since it only seeks to recognize education, training, licenses, and experiences of professionals. Thus, there is no need to change our domestic regulations.

“This means that if a professional who registered in his own country wants to work in the Philippines, he or she still needs to get a temporary permit from the PRC to practice,” she said.

To register as an ASEAN professional, one must fulfill certain requirements. Requirements for ASEAN Chartered Professional Engineers, for instance, include an engineering degree and license to practice the profession. Moreover, the applicant must have acquired practical and diversified experience for a minimum of seven years, two years of which have been for significant engineering work; complied with continuing professional development; no professional and ethical standards violation; and no pending investigation or legal proceeding against him or her. Interested professionals may apply through the PRC.

“These are the new rules of the game. Kung magaling ka, patunayan mo. (If you are good, prove it.) We have to change our mindset. We have to do the right thing, and do it right,” said Manzala. (S&T Media Service)

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