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(Updated 12:48 a.m., 4 March 2013) A lot of nursing graduates are seething mad over something Las Piñas Representative Cynthia Villar said two weeks ago on GMA News TV's "Pagsubok ng mga Kandidato". In response, the senatorial candidate posted over the weekend an online official statement, explaining what she had really meant. Villar has been lambasted in the comment threads on various posts on social media, such as video-sharing website YouTube; social networking site Facebook; and on the micro-blogging site Twitter. Her statement on necessary qualifications for becoming Filipino nurses did not sit well with graduates with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). "The 30-second limit for me to answer the question posed on the news program was too short to give the complete details surrounding the issue. I hope that this statement will clarify the issue. I am sorry if it has created confusion. Thank you." Thus concluded the "Statement of Cynthia Villar on nursing schools issue/question raised on GMA News’ ‘Pagsubok’" on Facebook (see sidebar). However, the Facebook account, as well as her Twitter account, was closed late Sunday night.
Statement of Cynthia Villar on nursing schools issue/question raised on GMA News’ ‘Pagsubok ng mga Kandidato’ program The television show Pagsubok involves problem solving: each candidate is presented with a tough leadership scenario and asked to clearly identify a solution. It is hosted by Jessica Soho, Howie Severino, Kara David, Malou Mangahas, and Professor Winnie Monsod, who all pose questions to the candidates. The show's second episode which featured Villar was aired on Feb. 23, and a video clip was posted on YouTube on Feb. 25, and on GMA News Online on Feb. 26. There it laid relatively dormant until Friday when several bloggers stated their views on the video clip's contents. As of 7:45 p.m. Sunday, the clip had garnered 233,298 views on YouTube and over 2,000 mostly negative comments; was shared on Facebook more than 1,400 times; and was re-tweeted more than 860 times. Winnie's question, Cynthia's answer So what got all those registered nurses (RNs) and nursing students all riled up? Here is an excerpt of the transcript of the exchange between Mareng Winnie and Congresswoman Cynthia. WINNIE MONSOD: Can you reconcile itong seeming disconnect between your desire to help the poor at pagpanig niyo sa mga may-ari ng education institution na gustong isara ng technical nursing committee at ng CHED? CYNTHIA VILLAR: Hindi naman ganoong ang istorya noon. Ang nangyari noon ay binigyan nila ng permit 'yung mga schools to open ng CHED. Tapos gusto nilang ipasara. Nag-invest na 'yung mga may-ari ng schools sa kanilang facilities. And then, sinasabi nila na kaya nila gusto ipasara dahil walang tertiary hospital where they can train. Ang sabi naman namin noon na hindi kami kumukontra sa CHED. Ang sinasabi namin kasi tiningnan namin 'yung syllabus at courses na kukunin nila at nakita namin na after lang sa third year kailangan nila 'yung tertiary hospital so ni-request namin na hindi isara 'yung pre-nursing schools. WINNIE MONSOD: Bakit bumaba pa ang nurses na na-employ sa abroad kasi hindi sila qualified? Bakit nag-resign ang Technical Education Committee after 7 months in office? CYNTHIA VILLAR: ‘Yung pagre-resign po ni [Fr. Rolando V. De la Rosa] is a personal quarrel with the owner of the school. Medyo personal po iyon. Pero 'yung amin po, 'yung sinasabi po namin sa kanila na actually hindi naman kailangan ang nurse ay matapos ng BSN kasi itong ating mga nurses ay gusto lang nila maging room nurse, o sa Amerika o sa other countries, ay mag-aalaga lang sila. Hindi naman kailangan na ganoon sila kagaling. Netizens react Here's just a couple of responses from angry nurses in the comment thread on YouTube. DameInnocence: Excuse me, hindi lang nurses ang jobless. Hindi mataas ang pride naming mga nurses. Nasaktan lang kami dahil sa pagmamaliit nya sa profession namin. Kung kami na ngang mga lisensyado minaliit nya, ano pa kaya dun sa hindi nakatapos? Eliecoed: Madame, you better say goodbye to the at least 400,000 votes this upcoming elections because most of these 400,000 are RN voters. On micro-blogging site Twitter, popular tweeps like momblogger, the jester-in-exile, Susan Ople, and Beth Angsioco discussed the cyber-conflagration fanned by candidate Cynthia Villar's comment. The Twitterati even noted the emergence of memes comparing Villar's statements to made-up statements by fictitious characters such as "Senyora Santibanez"; while contrasting it with actual statements by real people, such as United States President Barack Obama's praise for a Filipino American nurse in his last State of the Union Address. These memes have been making heavy rotation after being posted in "Product/Services" pages on Facebook such as "I'm a Registered Nurse Batch July 2010". — With reports from Pia Faustino & Jasmine Shewakramani/GMA News Online
Question asked by Winnie Monsod: How can you reconcile your desire to help the poor at pagpanig niyo sa may-ari ng nursing schools na gusto sanang ipasara ng Technical Nursing Committee at ng CHED? The question refers to a situation that happened in 2005 when I was still a congresswoman and was the Chairperson of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education. The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) ordered the closure of some (30 plus) nursing schools, mostly in the provinces, because they were not able to fulfill certain requirements—particularly having a tertiary hospital. So, the House Committee, which I chair interceded and urged all the parties involved, CHED and the nursing schools, to find a common ground that will serve all their interests, including that of the students. CHED, of course, has to exercise its mandate of regulating the quality of the schools. The schools and their owners have to protect their investments. The students, however, were the ones who stood to be most affected and disadvantaged. So, personally, I was concerned about the nursing students, who also approached me because closure of their schools will mean their displacement. They just wanted to finish their courses and start working. I carefully assessed the situation. It was brought to my attention that as per the nursing curriculum, the tertiary hospital is not needed until the third and fourth year of the course. And many nursing students, in fact, did not want to complete the entire course. During that time, there was a boom in high-paying, care-giving jobs available abroad. So many students wanted to be qualified for such. They requested that maybe they can be given certificates when they complete two years of studies. Those who want to and can afford to transfer to other schools, with tertiary hospitals, can do so. And those who cannot and want to work as caregivers would be allowed to do so also. Many students clamored for such an option…they wanted to have a certificate to be qualified as a caregiver. While we were hearing the issue in the House Committee, we were overtaken by events. One school filed a case against then CHED Commissioner, Fr. Rolando V. De la Rosa. Fr. Dela Rosa then decided to resign and just go back to University of Santo Tomas (UST), where he was Father Rector. The nursing schools and their owners also questioned the composition and competence of CHED’s Board of Advisers. According to them, they were not given due process and their schools were closed without even a prior notice. So CHED revamped its Board of Advisers, so the interest of the small schools in the provinces will also be represented in the board. The issue was really beyond me. I just interceded as chairperson of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education. I have no power neither over CHED nor the nursing schools. As I said, my conciliatory efforts were overtaken by events—the charges filed by the schools against CHED officials. The 30-second limit for me to answer the question posed on the news program was too short to give the complete details surrounding the issue. I hope that this statement will clarify the issue. I am sorry if it has created confusion. Thank you. — Cynthia Villar on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 4:51p.m.