Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva is pushing to exempt indigents from paying Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) and Civil Service Commission (CSC) examination fees in order to encourage those who have no means to pay the fees to take professional licensure examinations.

In filing Senate Bill 1323 or the “Free Professional Examinations Act,” Villanueva said this will lessen the financial burden on graduates who need to undergo professional licensure exams.

“It saddens me to think that some of our graduates will not be able to apply what they studied for just because they cannot afford to pay for the examination fee to get their professional license or civil service eligibility,” he said.

Based on the PRC record, 633,551 examinees took the board exams in 2022, of which 311,381 were first time examinees.

The prescribed fees for PRC examination ranges from PHP400 to PHP1,300, depending on the degree and type of examination; while the Career Service Examination for Professional and Sub-Professional Levels of the CSC requires an examination fee of PHP500.

Villanueva noted that on top of examination fees, applicants also incur additional expenses on review fees and other related expenses prior to taking the licensure examination.

Under the proposed measure, a qualified indigent person refers to “a person who has no visible means of income or support, or whose income is insufficient for the subsistence or basic needs of his/her family, as may be determined by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.”

Under the bill, first time applicants may be entitled to a 100 percent exemption of the examination fee, and 50 percent of the examination fee if the examinee needs to retake the exam.

Villanueva also stressed that SB 1323 will help solve the country’s high underemployment rate.

As of November 2022, unemployment rate is at 4.2 percent, which is equivalent to 2.18 million Filipinos; while underemployment is at 14.4 percent or 7.16 million Filipinos.

“We are determined to look for solutions in fighting unemployment woes in the country which is why we are pushing for measures such as this to help ensure that every Filipino will not only have a job but a quality job which fits their qualifications,” Villanueva said. (PNA)