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Friday, April 19, 2024

Socio-economic reforms just as vital

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More than 300 nursing students have been hired under the program, which started late last year

Economic development entails not just maintaining robust macroeconomic fundamentals and sound fiscal management to foster consumer and investor confidence.

As the Philippine Development Plan for 2023-2038 points out, it also means engaging meaningfully with various sectors to deliver the needed interventions, including efficient social protection programs.

Ample proof that the Marcos Jr. administration is addressing the urgent needs of various sectors is the signing into law of two key measures just this week.

One seeks to protect the interests of local entrepreneurs promoting Philippine-made products, while the other wants to uplift the welfare of the elderly.

Republic Act 11981, or the Tatak Pinoy Act, had been in the legislative pipeline for many years.

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It seeks to boost the sales of Filipino-made products and services. While the new law is seen as a game changer for local products, particularly farm produce, it has yet to allocate funds for the incipient Tatak Pinoy Council that it created.

The council will work with the private sector in promoting local products and crafting policies and programs to diversify local products and services.

On the other hand, Republic Act 11983 grants cash gifts of P10,000 for Filipinos when they turn 80, 85, 90 and 95 years old. It also creates an Elderly Data Management System.

The measure will expand the coverage of RA 10868, or the Centenarians Act, which provides a cash gift of P100,000 for Filipinos who reach the age of 100.

Earlier, reports indicated the Chief Executive was also due to sign the Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers last Monday.

But the approval of the bill has been deferred pending further study, according to the Presidential Communications Office headed by Secretary Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil.

The bill is expected to be signed soon after languishing in the legislative mill for more than a decade.

This comes after the European Maritime Safety Agency flagged the country for not aligning maritime safety and education with international standards.

The proposed law seeks to resolve frequent disputes between shipping companies and seafarers seeking disability claims through the execution of bonds, which will only be required for disputed portions of an award.

The Marcos Jr. administration is also working to reform the health sector and make it more responsive to the country’s health needs and problems.

One of the more pressing problems of the health sector at present is the shortage of nurses.

The Department of Health reported last year that in 2022, the Philippines was short of more than 106,000 nurses.

The Private Sector Advisory Council has stepped in to help the government cope with the problem by hiring more nursing students as clinical care associates in hospitals through an upskilling program.

This would help them qualify for a job even if they have yet to pass the nursing licensure exam.

More than 300 nursing students have been hired under the program, which started late last year.

The nursing upskilling program will allow students to be certified by the Commission on Higher Education to work as clinical care associates.

Under a joint administrative order signed in July 2023 by the Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Health, nursing students who have undergone upskilling will be employed under a one-year contract to perform important non-core functions.

The DOH also will provide coaching and mentoring to help the hired students pass the licensure exam.

These students are also entitled to attend review classes for free at CHEd-certified schools.

Those who fail the exams may still be rehired under a new contract.

This year, CHEd has allocated P20 million for the nursing board exam review of 1,000 clinical care associates.

The recruitment of potential clinical care associates who would take the November 2024 exams is ongoing to fill the 1,000 slots opened by CHEd.

Still another positive development in strengthening our health sector is the forging of bilateral labor agreements with other nations. Among them is the pilot memorandum of understanding with Austria forged through the Department of Migrant Workers and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Under the agreement, the Austrian government will provide our health sector with scholarships and faculty support as well as finance an adopt-a-school or hospital scheme.

Addressing the needs of various sectors one step at a time will no doubt strengthen the fabric of Philippine society and enhance social cohesion vital to political stability and sustained economic growth in the years ahead.

(Email: ernhil@yahoo.com)

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