In this time of global health crisis, with the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) posing challenges in the delivery of mandated services of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), the imminent threat to everyone's safety led to the restructuring of approaches to overcome these challenges or to adapt or transition to the “new normal”.
Prudently rationalizing its available resources, PRC has commenced e-Governance mechanisms and undertaken initiatives to effectively accommodate the needs of the public it serves amidst the pandemic.
First, in support of the government’s initiative to curb the spread of the said virus, PRC postponed the conduct of various Licensure Examinations including Special Professional Licensure Examinations (SPLE).
However, with the appeal of the Department of Health (DOH) to mobilize all resources in order to augment the shortage of health care professionals attending to COVID-19 cases, PRC submitted its proposal to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-MEID) to resume the conduct of the March 2020 Physicians Licensure Examination (PLE). This action led to the issuance of IATF-MEID Resolution No. 58 (s.2020) approving the said proposal. Hence, on September 20-21, 2020 the said licensure examinations would be conducted as scheduled, subject to the strict observance of health and safety protocols in the conduct thereof.
Second, for its legal services, PRC adopted policies on the implementation of the electronic filing of pleadings and other legal documents, including the conduct of administrative investigations through video conferencing to facilitate the conduct of virtual legal proceedings.
Third, PRC resolved to grant credit units to all professionals providing essential services during this Public Health Emergency in recognition of their devotion to their profession and the tasks and services they have been providing during the pandemic. It has also waived the accreditation fees for free online training and programs and accepted the applications of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) providers who offered or started offering their online training and programs during the State of Public Health Emergency.
Fourth, to ease the difficulty in renewing Professional Identification Cards (PICs), PRC further extended the validity of the PICs of all professionals expiring during the imposed community quarantines. It has also partnered with its courier service provider, W Express, and integrated its Online Renewal System to deliver PICs to the professional's indicated address. The system is currently being piloted within Metro Manila but will be implemented later on nationwide.
Fifth, through the Online Oathtaking Application System, new passers may take their virtual oath without having to leave their homes so they may be able to register and immediately practice their profession and earn their living during this pandemic. Other newly developed systems, through the active and significant engagement of the PRC's ICTS, and with the support of the Commission, will be deployed at the 3rd quarter of this year which includes, Queue Management System (Interactive and Web-Based), Online Certification of Good Standing, and Client Relationship Management System with Feedback Mechanism (Web-Based). The Continuing Professional Development Accreditation System (CPDAS) which will enable the applicants for accreditation of CPD providers, CPD programs, Self-directed learnings to submit and pay their applications online will likewise be launched this September.
Sixth, the PRC is now exploring on the possibility of conducting computer-based or online licensure examinations to support the government's drive to reduce contact to the virus amongst the people needing public services.
Lastly, to intensify information dissemination drive through a geographically centered digital platform, PRC has also mandated the creation of Regional Facebook Page of all its Regional Offices. PRC clients in regions can now directly connect with the Regional Offices for their specific needs and transactions through the PRC established social media platforms.
While the health crisis has forced PRC to respond by bringing its services even closer to the public and through the provision of IT-enabled customer-focused services, it will continue to ensure adherence to the strict standards of quality, convenience, and to the requirements of minimum public health and safety standards, in the delivery of its services.