By Filane Mikee Cervantes

(File photo)

MANILA – A measure that would institutionalize the Expanded Tertiary Education Equivalency and Accreditation Program (ETEEAP) hurdled committee level at the House of Representatives.

During the hearing on Monday, the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education, chaired by Baguio City Rep. Mark Go, approved House Bill 5728, which aims to strengthen the system of academic equivalency and validation of the knowledge and expertise derived by individuals from relevant work experiences and high-level, non-formal training to harness their full potentials.

The bill is authored by TINGOG party-list Reps. Yedda Marie Romualdez and Jude Acidre.

In his sponsorship speech, Acidre said the ETEEAP was introduced in 1996 by virtue of Executive Order 330, signed by then President Fidel V. Ramos.

“The ETEEAP is an education assessment scheme, which recognizes knowledge, skills, and prior learning obtained by an individual from non-formal and informal training and relevant work experiences,” he said.

Acidre said, through this program, an individual may be granted a diploma for a degree after a competency-based evaluation from an established assessment system employing written tests, interviews, skills demonstration, portfolio and other creative assessment methodologies administered by designated assessors or faculty experts.

“There is a need to provide individuals with proven competence access to opportunities that will increase their prospects for inclusion in the labor market, prepare them for higher value jobs required for achieving global competitiveness, advancing the strategic concerns of the government and promoting sustainable development,” he said.

Under the measure, professionals with an aggregate of five or more years of work experience can use the knowledge, experiences, achievements and skills obtained through their jobs to earn school credits that are then deducted from the total number of units or credits that they are required to earn before they graduate.

The following are the requirements to qualify for the program: a) Filipino citizen, whether in the Philippines or abroad; b) has at least five years of work experience; c) birth certificate issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority; d) 23 years old or above; e) resume, curriculum vitae or personal data sheet; f) duly accomplished ETEEAP application form; g) service record or employment certificate signed by the employer; h) job description signed by the employer; and i) transcript of records.

The Commission on Higher Education shall be the lead agency in the implementation of the proposed law. It shall accredit colleges and universities that seek to offer the ETEEAP as part of their academic program.

Maritime zones

The House Committee on Foreign Affairs, chaired by Pangasinan Rep. Ma. Rachel Arenas, also approved a measure that would declare and define the maritime zones under the jurisdiction of the Philippines to preserve and protect its sovereign rights.

During the hearing on Monday, the panel passed the unnumbered substitute bill to House Bills 2467, 3895 and 6109, or the proposed “Philippine Maritime Zones Act”.

The bill would harmonize Philippine legislation with international laws, such as the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

This seeks to clarify the nature and status of the waters connecting the various islands of the Philippines and its adjacent seas.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, author of House Bill 2467, said the Philippines, as a signatory and party to the 1982 UNCLOS, “recognizes the establishment of various maritime zones and jurisdiction of coastal states, including its own, over which sovereignty and appurtenant sovereign rights can be exercised.”

Rodriguez said UNCLOS allows party-states to define their maritime territory.

“Thus, the country exercises sovereignty over its internal waters, archipelagic waters, territorial sea and airspace over it, as well as its seabed and subsoil in accordance with UNCLOS and other existing laws and treaties,” he said.

He said the Philippines also exercises sovereign rights over its “contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, including the right to explore and exploit living and nonliving, organic or nonorganic resources.”

Rodriguez added that Congress should not be afraid of how China would react to the enactment of such a law.

“Enacting it is our right under the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea. Let us not worry about what the Chinese will say. Let us think of our own national interest,” Rodriguez said.

China claims most of the South China Sea under its so-called nine-dash line map, which also overlaps with the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

In a 2016 arbitral ruling, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that Beijing’s nine-dash line, a demarcation that covers almost 80 percent of the South China Sea, is illegal. China continues to disregard the verdict. (PNA)