MANILA - Sen. Francis Tolentino urged the government to forego the physician board examination for more than 1,500 examinees so they can help in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
In a statement released Monday, Tolentino asked the Professional Regulation Commission(PRC) to waive the last two days of the licensure examinations for new doctors scheduled this month so they can be deployed by the Department of Health (DOH).
“In a national health crisis, such as a pandemic, we are also at war, with the lives of our countrymen at stake, and our health workers are on the frontlines, but they need reinforcements now. In such extraordinary times, we need to adopt all measures to save the lives of the Filipino people,” said Tolentino, in a letter addressed to DOH Secretary Francisco T. Duque III.
According to Tolentino, the Medical Act of 1959 provides that "medical students who have completed the first four years of medical course, graduates of medicine and registered nurses are allowed to render medical services upon authorization by the Secretary of Health without need of a certificate of registration" in times of epidemics of national emergencies.
The 2020 Physician Licensure Examination is scheduled on March 8 and 9, and March 15 and 16. However, due to the community quarantine, the last two days of the exams have been postponed.
Tolentino also said the government can provide the new doctors with an honorarium or allowance, adding this has been done in other countries.
"Nasa giyera tayo ngayon. Bakit pa natin hihintayin na lumalala pa ang mga kaso ng COVID-19 dito sa Pilipinas bago tayo kumilos at dagdagan ang ating mga health workers, na nananawagan ngayon para sa ating tulong?” Tolentino said.
The DOH earlier issued a call for health workers to volunteer for the government’s COVID-19 referral hospitals. These are the Philippine General Hospital in Manila, the Jose M. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Caloocan City, and the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City.