Cynthia Villar criticized over comments on Filipino nurses

Due to lack of time, Cynthia Villar wasn’t able to elaborate her answer to a question on “Pagsubok sa mga Kandidato” aired over GMA News TV. The senatorial candidate’s comment on Filipino nurses drew flak.

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Villar chaired the House Committee on Education which barred the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) from suspending the permits of twenty three nursing schools in 2005 to 2006 due to low performance in licensure exams.

During the political Q&A program, veteran media personality Winnie Monsod asked the former Las Piñas representative to justify her desire to help the poor when she allegedly sided with the owners of the nursing schools.

“Noong kayo po ay nasa Kongreso, kayo ay naging chaiman ng Committee on Education, at noong panahon na iyon, 2005-2006, nagkaroon ng malaking kontrobersya...kasi yung Comission on Higher Education gustong isara ang 23 nursing schools sapagkat ang dami dami nilang walang kalidad, at tsaka nasasayang lang yung pera ng mga nursing students tapos hindi sila makapasa ng professional regulatory exam or yung tinatawag na NCLEX. Nung ginawa ito ng CHED, mukhang nag-intervene po ang kongreso...sa iyo, yung Committee on Education at humihingi kayo ng dialogue. Ang bottom line is that walang nasara na eskwela. And as a result, nag-resign po si Chairman Fr. Rolando Dela Rosa, nag-resign ang buong technical committee on nursing education. Ngayon, ang question ko, it seems nag-side po kayo sa side ng business, sa mga owners ng school. At tsaka hindi niyo pinakinggan yung mga kailangan magawa para sa mga nursing students na nawalan na ng pera, hindi naman sila pwedeng pumasa,” Monsod said. “Now how, Congresswoman Villar, can you reconcile itong parang seeming disconnect between yung desire ninyo to help the poor at tsaka yung pagpanig niyo sa mga owners ng mga educational institutions na gustong isara ng technical nursing committee at tsaka yung CHED?”

Villar explained that CHED already issued the nursing schools permits to open and the owners have invested for facilities.

“I want to explain that situation to you. Hindi naman ganoon ang istorya noon. Ang nangyari noon, binigyan nila ng permit yung mga schools to open, ng CHED...Tapos gusto nila ipasara, nakapag-invest na yung mga may-ari ng schools sa mga kanilang facilities. And then, sinasabi nila na kaya daw nila gustong ipasara dahil walang tertiary hospital, kasi sa mga nursing school to, na where they can train. Ang sinasabi namin noon, hindi naman po kami kumokontra sa CHED, ang sinasabi namin, kasi tinignan namin yung syllabus, yung mga courses na kukunin nila, and then nakita namin na after lang sa third year kailangan nila yung tertiary hospital so ni-request namin na hindi nalang ipasara yung pre-nursing, yung first two years...” the lawmaker said.

In her follow-up questions, Monsod asked Villar that if investment was the basis, why was there a drop in the number of nurses qualified to work abroad. The economist also asked why the entire technical committee, chaired by Father Dela Rosa, resigned after only 7 months in office.

Villar replied, saying “No, yung pag-reresign po ni Father is a personal quarrel with the owner of a school. Medyo personal po yun. Pero yung amin po, ay sinasabi po namin sa kanila na actually, hindi naman kailangan ang nurse ay matapos ng BSN kasi itong ating mga nurses, gusto lang nila maging room nurse. Sa America or sa other countries, ano lang sila, yung parang mag-aalaga...hindi naman sila kailangang ganoon kagaling kasi sa ibang country...”

After getting negative reactions on social networking sites for her answer that went viral online, Villar immediately issued a statement on her Facebook page, which read:

“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.”

Villar’s fan page was no longer available late Sunday afternoon. Netizens slammed the politician for her remarks saying the senate hopeful “belittled” the nursing profession. Nurses’ groups demanded from her a public apology.