By Elena Aben
The Senate on Monday, March 6, approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to regulate and professionalize speech language pathology in the country.
Senate Bill No. 462, or the Speech Language Pathology Act of 2016, was approved with 20 affirmative votes.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said that the bill was part of the Senate’s efforts “to help the development of the country’s various health-related professions, amid various local and regional challenges such as the ASEAN integration.”
SNB 462 was authored and sponsored by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, chair of the Senate committee on civil service and government reorganization. Senator Risa Hontiveros is a co-author of the measure, while Senator Sonny Angara has earlier submitted another version of the bill.
According to Trillanes, the bill aimed to align the regulatory framework for speech language pathology with the current international standards of practice, given the current “lack of a legal frame work for the licensure, government accreditation and registration of speech language pathologists in the country.”
“It is but proper for the government to uplift the standards and push for the development of this profession through a regulatory framework that fosters continuing professional growth,” Trillanes said in his sponsorship speech.
He explained that while speech language pathology was first offered in the country in 1978, “at present it has not been officially recognized by the country as a profession and is not properly regulated by the government.”
A key provision in the bill, Trillanes said, is the creation of a new government body, the Speech Language Pathology Board, which “shall supervise and regulate the registration, licensure and practice of speech language pathology in the Philippines.”
The board shall be composed of a chairperson, who shall hold office for three years and two members, who shall hold office for one year and two years, respectively, after their appointment by the President.
The measure will also create a “mechanism for licensure and registration of speech language pathologists.”
Under the bill, applicants for the practice of speech language pathology shall be required to undergo a licensure examination given by the Board and must obtain a general average of 75 percent with no grade lower than 50 percent in any subject to qualify.
“This measure would undoubtedly complement the talent and skills of Filipino speech language pathologists not only to make them more globally competitive, but also to enable them to render greater service to our country and people,” Trillanes said.
The American Speech Language Hearing Association defines speech language pathology as the practice of “evaluating and treating language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders in children and adults.”