THE MOST VALUABLE passport in the world is the Japanese passport as it is accepted at face value (no visa requirements) in 193 countries around the world, according to the Henley Passport Index. The Philippine passport is accepted at face value (no visa requirements) in 67 countries in the world.
The Philippine passport is a required document whenever our OFWs and professional managers not working in cyberspace seek employment all over the world.
We argue that for Filipino professionals, whether working virtually or in place, a more important document is the Philippine diploma. Whenever a Filipino professional is considered for employment he submits his biodata, which contains among others, his academic credentials; his diploma. As with the passport, the ideal for a Philippine diploma is for it to be accepted at face value i.e., no additional documents necessary.
We further argue that the best way for the Philippine government to support the Filipino professional in the global economy is to enhance the value of the Philippine diploma so that it is accepted at face value both locally and internationally.
The government agency who would be mandated with this mission is the Professional Regulation Commission (Komisyon sa Regulasyon ng mga Propesyon) otherwise known as the PRC. In its official website, the PRC defines its vision as: “the instrument of the Filipino people in securing for the nation a reliable, trustworthy and progressive system of determining the competence of professionals by credible and valid licensure examinations and standards of professional practice that are globally recognized.”
To this vision we would add “enhancing the value of these professions locally and internationally by ensuring that their professional credentials are accepted at face value.”
We suggest three ways that the PRC could go about enhancing the value of our professionals.
English is the language of the global economy. The international measure of English proficiency is passing the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) test. The South Korean government has pushed the passing of this test such that the test has become a necessity even for South Koreans with no intention of leaving the country.
Many people, from teenagers applying to selective secondary schools to adults applying for jobs — even jobs with no obvious need for fluency in English — must submit TOEFL scores. Dozens of universities require TOEFL for graduation. Governmental offices and quasi-governmental agencies — city councils, jails, the Korea Racing Association — ask applicants for scores.
The Korean government uses the TOEFL tests to monitor the level of English proficiency of the Koreans (increasing, not surprising). Our PRC should consider undertaking similar policy initiatives, at the very least to use the Toefl tests to monitor the level of English proficiency of the Filipinos.
Next, Mapua University, under the leadership of its President and Chief Executive Officer Reynaldo B. Vea, succeeded in having the Philippines become a provisional signatory to the Washington Accord.
Full signatories of the Washington Accord recognize substantial equivalency of programs accredited by these accreditation bodies and recommend that graduates of programs accredited by any member of the signatory body be recognized by the other bodies as having met the academic requirements for entry to the practice of engineering.
Under the accord, Mapua is “recognized as having appropriate systems and processes in place to develop towards becoming a full signatory.”
PRC should encourage initiatives to enter into similar accords for other professions such as accounting, architecture, medical services, etc.
Finally, CPA or Certified Public Accountant is a well-known title. But other new titles are gaining prominence, one of which is the CFA or the Chartered Financial Analyst.
The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) program is a postgraduate professional certification offered internationally by the American-based CFA Institute to investment and financial professionals.
Widely considered the apex for professional development in investment management, the CFA designation is valued by employers for roles and functions in every sector of the global finance industry, including portfolio management, analysis, private wealth, and consulting.
The CFA charter is required or preferred by more than 90% of investment management firms. Firms especially require the CFA charter for executives and senior level roles, such as portfolio manager and Chief Investment Officer.
PRC should consider spreading the advantages and benefits this new title confers on Filipino professionals. Of the around 650,000 CPAs (Certified Public Accountants) in the world, around 11.5% or 75,000 are Filipinos. Of the around 200,000 CFAs (Chartered Financial Analyst) in the world, only around 300 or 00.15% are Filipinos.
Furthermore, the PRC could reach out to the CFA Institute to work jointly on increasing the number of Filipino CFA holders.
We are quite sure that there are many other ways of enhancing the value of the Philippine diploma. The hope is that as these are pursued, more opportunities will arise for Filipino professionals in the global economy. And with that enhancement, we are quite sure that the value of the Philippine passport will rise as well.
Dr. Victor S. Limlingan is the chairman of the Cristina Research Foundation, Inc., a public policy advisory firm, and the Regina Capital Development Corp. He is presently a Regent of the Board of Regents of the Pamantasan ng Lunsod ng Pasig. Among the books he has written are The Overseas Chinese in ASEAN: Business Strategies and Management Practices and The Visible Hand and the Developing Economy. As public policy adviser to the legislative branch, he advised on legislation such as Kalakalan 20, Overseas Workers Development Fund, the charter of the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the EPIRA Law.