Optometrists cry foul over new requirements
A group of optometrists has raised objections to the operational guidelines drafted by the Board of Optometry for a law requiring practitioners to earn educational units to renew their licenses, saying the board was allowing the retroactive application of points earned prior to the full implementation of the law this month.
The Optometric Association of the Philippines (OAP) also questioned why Continuing Professional Development (CPD) units had been issued to practitioners in the last three years when renewal of licenses had been allowed without such conditions before the enactment of the CPD Act last year.
OAP president Dr. John Paul Lam pointed out that Republic Act No. 8981 or the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) Modernization Act of 2000 repealed the provision of Republic Act No. 8050 that required CPD (then the Continuing Development Education) as a condition for the renewal of licenses of optometrists.
“That means there is also no CPD council [that should be issuing points]. But what is happening right now is that the Professional Regulation Commission is saying there are accredited CPD providers,” Lam told the Inquirer.
Authored by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, Republic Act No. 10912 or the Continuing Professional Development Act lapsed into law in July 2016.
It requires all professionals to take additional formal and nonformal learning before they can renew their licenses under the regulation of the PRC in view of the impending Association of Southeast Asian Nations integration.
Under the law, optometrists should earn a total of 45 points in three years to renew their licenses.
Lam noted that the board was allowing CPD points issued by the CPD Council for Optometry since June 7, 2014, to be credited within three years from issuance.
But Lam said this was questionable since the law was only fully implemented this month following the issuance of the Implementing Rules and Regulations by the PRC in February.
OAP international affairs chair Dr. Carmen Abesamis-Dichoso also said they had applied for accreditation as a CPD provider in October last year but the CPD Council for Optometry continued to defer their application.
Another organization, the Integrated Philippine Association of Optometrists, has been accredited as a CPD provider, Dichoso said.
“They are sitting on application because there’s a political issue,” she said.
She said practitioners were paying as much as $300 to $400 for these seminars to earn CPD points from accredited providers.
But the Board of Optometry denied politics was involved in declining the application for accreditation of the OAP as a provider of educational units necessary to renew licenses.
“There is no ‘politics’ involved, as they were likewise given certification as a continuing professional development provider which was canceled in 2016 because they had not complied with the implementation guidelines,” Dr. Teresita Yambot, chair of the Board of Optometry, told the Inquirer. —WITH A REPORT FROM JULIE M. AURELIO
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