Several lawmakers, on the initiative of Representative Catalina Leonen-Pizarro (Partylist, ABS), has called on President Benigno Aquino III to speed up the full implementation of the Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRAs) covering eight professional services entered into by the Philippines with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
These MRAs standardize the qualifications, and facilitate the movement, of professionals and skilled labor among the Asean member-states.
The special House committee on the East Asean Growth Area recently adopted, subject to form and style, House Resolution 1482 authored by Leonen-Pizarro, a partylist ally of the National Unity Party (NUP).
HR 1482 urges the President to issue a directive fully implementing the MRAs with Asean member-states covering the professions of engineering services, nursing services, architecture, surveying, medical practice, dental practice, accountancy and tourism services.
These MRAs, which the Philippines signed between December 2005 and November 2012, form part of the agreement reached among the 10 Asean member-states on economic integration.
Heads of state and government of the Asean reached this agreement, dubbed the Bali Accord, which establishes an Asean Economic Community, during their 9th Summit held in 2003 in Indonesia.
The Asean groups the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia.
Leonen-Pizarro pointed out that the MRAs aim to 1) facilitate mobility of practitioners within the ASEAN region; 2) exchange information and enhance cooperation in respect of mutual recognition of practitioners; 3) promote adoption of best practices on standards and qualifications; and 4) provide opportunities for capacity building and training of practitioners.
She recalled that since December 15, 1995 the Asean has recognized and emphasized the growing importance of trade in services through the adoption of the Asean Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS) during the 5th Asean Summit in Bangkok, Thailand.
The AFAS aims to substantially eliminate restrictions to trade in services among Asean member-states, enhance cooperation in services, liberalize trade in services, and promote efficiency and competitiveness of ASEAN service suppliers.
Under the AFAS, Asean members may recognize the education or experience obtained, requirements met, and licenses or certifications granted in other Asean member-states, for the purpose of licensing or certification of services suppliers, Leonen-Pizarro noted.