ASEAN lawmakers urged to work towards harmonizing laws

MANILA-- ASEAN lawmakers need to work towards harmonizing the laws of member-states to allow more professionals to work freely within the ASEAN region.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Asst. Secretary for ASEAN Affairs Hellen De La Vega said the mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) initiative, which was part of the ASEAN integration process, so far covered eight professions.

These professions include medical doctors, dentists, nurses, architects, engineers, accountants, surveyors and tourism professionals.

Tourism has the most advantage right now because for instance, tourism graduates, when they get this particular certificate of accreditation from TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority), they can proceed to an ASEAN member country because there are now openings for this particular job, she said.

De La Vega said ASEAN members could realize and fully implement the MRA initiative through harmonizing national and regional laws.

She thus underscored the need for linkage with the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly.

Because as legislators, we are asking them that you legislators in ASEAN, please, when you do your law making or legislative functions, (you need) to look at how we can harmonize our different national laws, De La Vega.

This is one of the constraints. For instance, if you look at some professions, one country may have a different take on some of the rights or fees or curricula pertaining to one particular profession, she added.

Meanwhile, 15 state universities from the Philippines visited Japan recently to benchmark and learn from Japan's best practices in engineering and technology education amid the ASEAN integration.

CHED (Commission on Higher Education) would like to develop a broader perspective of global higher education trends by going beyond the Philippine context, said CHED Deputy Executive Director Napoleon Imperial.

What we learned from Japan is the role of industry in enhancing the curriculum and opportunities for collaboration with Japanese universities, Imperial said.

Following the visit, one of the participating State Universities is eyeing an introduction of disaster risk reduction courses in the Philippines, a first of its kind in the country considering the Philippines' vulnerability to natural disasters and availability of engineering professionals.

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Chief Rep. Susumu Ito said the agency hoped that the visit to Japan would help expand the global network of Philippine universities to benefit Filipino students and teachers.

Ito also hoped that it would open opportunities towards institutional learning and linkages programs between the Philippines and Japan.

With ASEAN integration, qualifications of select professions in the region will be aligned to allow free movement of professionals, including those from fields such as engineering, nursing, architecture, medicine to name a few.

Our visit to Japanese universities provided us insights on how to improve engineering programs and higher education governance in the Philippines, said Dr. Dexter R. Buted, President of Pangasinan State University.

We were able to see how we can improve our curriculum and institutional directions and develop the competencies of our graduates relevant to ASEAN integration, he added.

The participating State Universities include Laguna State Polytechnic University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Visayas State University and Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology, among others.

Source: Philippines News Agency