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Philippines Enacts Licensure for RTs

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March 26, 2010

Respiratory therapists in the Philippines are rejoicing this month. On March 19, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed the Philippine Respiratory Therapy Act, officially regulating the practice of respiratory therapy through licensure examinations in the country and creating the Professional Regulatory Board of Respiratory Therapy to oversee the practice of the profession.

The law was a long time coming, says Cesar G. Bugaoisan Jr., president of the Association of Respiratory Care Practitioners, Philippines (ARCPP), and arrived not a moment too soon.

According to the president, respiratory organizations in the country have been pursing licensure since 1992, but with little success. While efforts benefited from a 2001 consolidation of three separate RT organizations into the ARCPP, socio-political events in the country and other factors kept the legislation from progressing in the Congress.

The lack of legal status for RTs eventually began to hurt the profession. “In 2008 many…had lost hope for the profession,” says Bugaoisan. “Many of the former leaders of the organization had left the country for work.” He joined the ARCPP that year, and along with fellow members began to work again for licensure.

“Meeting the right individuals and personalities in Congress at the right circumstances placed us at an advantage for the perusal of the bill,” he says. The bill was introduced in the House and Senate in 2008 and began to pass through the required readings necessary to turn the action into law.

Bugaoisan says the ARCPP was assisted immeasurably in this process by the Emirates Association of Respiratory Care Practitioners (EARCP), headed by Chairman Noel Tiburcio, PhD, RRT-NPS.

Dr. Tiburcio says the EARCP got involved to “to reignite the flame and become a global catalyst for Filipino RTs working worldwide.” After nearly two years of hard campaigning, House Bill No. 6410 and Senate Bill No. 3139 were combined into Republic Act No. 10024, the “Philippine Respiratory Therapy Act of 2009” and passed by Congress on March 9 of this year.

Throughout the process, Bugaoisan and Dr. Tiburcio both say they and their colleagues benefited immeasurably from the advice and support of the AARC’s International Council for Respiratory Care (ICRC). “The ICRC president, Mr. Jerome Sullivan, and Mr. Hassan Alorainy were always there to encourage us to work harder to achieve this lifelong dream for Filipino RTs,” says Dr. Tiburcio. “ICRC and AARC officials like Jerome Sullivan, Hassan Alorainy, Tim Myers, Sam Giordano, John Hiser, Steve Nelson, and many more offered to write our government officials about the urgency and importance of this licensure and professionalization for Filipino RTs.”

Both Bugaoisan and Dr. Tiburcio are hopeful the enactment of this law will reinvigorate the respiratory therapy profession in the Philippines. “Licensure of RTs will be of great help not only to respiratory therapists, but in a bigger perspective, this will ensure proper delivery of respiratory care services to our patients, the Filipino people,” says Bugaoisan.

Says Dr. Tiburcio, “The RT profession has seen some light at the end of the tunnel. R.A. No. 10024 will surely revive the profession just like a respiratory therapist successfully revives a patient after a Code Blue situation.”