Cynthia Villar apologizes to nurses

The apology comes after netizens criticized her comments at televised senatorial forum


MANILA, Philippines – Team PNoy senatorial candidate Cynthia Villar apologized on Monday, March 4, to Filipino nurses who were hurt by her recent statement on the nursing profession.

Taos-puso po akong humihingi ng paumanhin sa lahat ng mga nurse at kani-kanilang pamilya na labis na nasaktan sa aking kasagutan sa tanong na ibinato sa akin sa isang programa sa TV (I sincerely apologize to all the nurses and their families who were hurt by my response to the question I was asked on TV),” she posted on her Twitter account @cynthia_villar.

In a senatorial forum on GMA News TV on February 23, economist Solita Monsod asked Villar to explain why, as chairman of the House committee on high education, she opposed the move to close nursing schools that the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said did not meet minimum requirements to continue operations.

Villar explained that she favored the students who wanted to continue their schooling. CHED, she said, wanted to close the nursing schools because they didn’t have the required tertiary hospitals where the nurses would eventually be trained before they graduate and get their BS Nursing degrees.

This part of Villar’s response became controversial: “Actually, hindi naman kailangan ng nurse na matapos ang BSN (BS Nursing). Kasi itong mga nurses, gusto lang nilang maging room nurse,” Villar said in response.

Humihingi po ako ng pang-unawa sa lahat ng mga nasaktan sa aking sinabi. Wala po akong intensyong maliitin ang mga Filipino nurses (I apologzie. I had no intention to belittle the Filipino nurses),” Villar added.

Villar also wrote to the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) to offer her “heartfelt apology.”

“What I was trying to say during the media forum was that nursing students affected by a CHED closure order several years ago deserved concrete and better career and academic options other than just an abrupt closure of the institutions that they were currently enrolled in,” she said. Read her letter below:

Team PNoy campaign spokesperson Marikina Representative Miro Quimbo said Villar has been “unfairly treated” especially on social media. Quimbo said Villar was caught off guard with the question because it was about something that happened several years back.

“She has sufficiently explained her position on the matter. If there’s anyone who she’d offended it was not intentional,” Quimbo said during Team PNoy’s press conference.

Was she misunderstood?

Fellow Team PNoy senatorial candidate Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero conceded Villar could have answered Monsod’s question better, but he thinks Villar was “misunderstood” or “taken out of context.”

The bigger issue surrounding the nursing profession, Escudero said, is the supposedly questionable practice of making them pay for their internships. “Iyon siguro ang mas dapat pagtuunan ng pansin,” he told a health forum Monday, March 4.

Aside from Escudero, the health forum was attended by former Sen Ramon “Jun” Magsaysay Jr and former Akbayan Rep Risa Hontiveros. The Team PNoy candidates were the first to be invited to the health forum. Another health forum will be held next week for the candidates of United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

Magsaysay would not want to directly comment on Villar’s statements but he said the issue is “quality education.”

“When a family puts in a lot of capital and even sells his last carabao to send his daughter or son to a nursing school, that family deserves good quality education…. That is the essence of education. Otherwise, it’s diploma mill,” Magsaysay said.

Hontiveros also refused to directly comment on Villar’s statements but stressed that nurses are professionals.

“We need to look at them as health professionals. They are professionals not export products. They provide high level of care and they are highly sought after around the world. We also need to look at the welfare of their families, who paid the price of labor migration in their own families,” Hontiveros said.

“I think we all agree that we want them to come home and work here and live here with their families,” Hontiveros added. –

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