Improving the Status of the Chemistry Workforce in the Philippines: A Perspective from the Board of Chemistry

This article is written by the Honorable Ma. Theresa Cayton, member of the Professional Regulatory Board of Chemistry. In this article, she offered insights on the challenges being faced by registered chemistry professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the perennial issues concerning them and the profession that are slowly being resolved.

Chemists and chemical technicians can be found working silently behind the scenes in various sectors of the country’s work force – in academe, in government, and in industry. More so in this pandemic, many of them are in the laboratories analyzing, synthesizing or elucidating structures of compounds or viruses such as COVID-19 and its emerging variants; in manufacturing plants ensuring the quality of alcohol and disinfectants; in pharmaceutical companies formulating and checking the quality of drugs used to treat diseases and infections or to strengthen our immune system; in food companies ensuring the quality of food and drinks to sustain our daily nutrition; and in agricultural plants ensuring that the seeds and fertilizers used by farmers for our food supply are of the highest standard. They help our fruit industry by analyzing exports such as mangoes and bananas, ensuring that pesticide residue levels are within the acceptable limits of importing countries. They are also present in environmental laboratories checking the quality of the water we drink, the soil we harvest our produce from, and the air we breathe. They are indispensable in all fire and explosion incidents as they analyze materials and investigate on the probable cause. They are in every drug case analyzing the seized drugs and serving as witnesses in each court proceeding against drug suspects. Quietly, the chemists are also present in every crime scene analyzing evidence and proving their analytical results in court. And there are many more chemists and chemical technicians out there who analyze and make sure that the products being sold in the market are of constantly good quality.

With the implementation of the Chemistry Profession Act in 2015 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations the year after, the health and safety, work environment, overall welfare of chemistry practitioners, the management of laboratory chemical waste, and protection of the environment were all vastly improved. This Act is the first professional regulatory law which incorporates hazard pay, health and safety of the professional, and environment protection as major requirements to obtain a Certificate of Authority to Operate (CATO), which all chemical laboratories are mandated to obtain to legally operate in the country.

Since 2017, almost 800 chemical laboratories have applied for CATO. The Professional Regulatory Board of Chemistry (BOC) has inspected 600 of these applicants. Of these, 360 are already fully compliant, resulting in a huge improvement in the leadership, organization, professional staffing, health and safety practices, waste management, environment protection, hazard pay, and other aspects of the practice of the chemistry profession. The rest of the laboratories are in different stages of compliance and ongoing improvements. That’s 600 laboratories which have vastly improved in the last four years, an accomplishment benefitting our chemistry work force which the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) and the BOC are truly proud of!

Having a CATO translates to more than two-thousand registered chemists and registered chemical technicians who now have or will soon have hazard pay, ranging from PHP 2,400 per month to 30 percent of the base pay for government laboratories which worked on being aligned to the Magna Carta of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) at the advice of the BOC. In December 2020, a breakthrough was accomplished: DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña issued an administrative order directing all contract workers of the DOST and its affiliate agencies be given hazard pay citing the provisions of the Chemistry Profession Act. This administrative order will benefit the currently more than a hundred contractual chemistry professionals and future ones to be hired by DOST’s 16 regional laboratories and 5 attached agencies.

Other establishments which now provide hazard pay to their registered chemists and registered chemical technicians are: San Miguel Corporation, Universal Robina Corporation, Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, Manila Water, Laguna Lake Development Authority, Sugar Regulatory Administration, Department of Agriculture, Environment Management Bureau, and many more. However, minor hiccups remain. Some of the government laboratories, upon the initial inspection of the BOC, said that hazard pay is not possible to be given at all. Moreover, there are laboratories in the industry sector which claimed during inspection that hazard pay is already incorporated in the base pay of their registered chemistry professionals but were not able to show sufficient evidence. The BOC remains committed in resolving such issues.

The resulting upliftment and recognition of our chemists and chemical technicians is a much welcome result of the combined efforts of the PRC, BOC and the Integrated Chemists of the Philippines (ICP), which also gave support to the BOC during laboratory inspections in areas where no PRC regional office is available.

The journey is not yet finished as there are more chemical laboratories to inspect. But with ever encouraging results, the PRC, BOC, and the ICP are more devoted to improve more chemical laboratories, which should translate to helping more chemistry professionals!

ICP Board Election 2021: Results

The ICP Election 2021 Committee is pleased to announce the results of the elections for ICP Board of Directors. The elected board members (in bold) who will serve from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2024 are:

Academe
Lilibeth Coo – 172 votes
(Abstain: 6 votes)

Government
Admer Ray Dablio – 163 votes
(Abstain: 15 votes)

Industry
Mark Grageda – 148 votes
Cherrie Calderon – 5 votes
(Abstain: 25 votes)

Ballots received:
Valid: 178
Invalid: 11
Total: 189

The Committee would like to thank all those who participated and voted in this election. We would like to also thank the outgoing board members Dr Rosalinda Torres and Ms Edna Mijares for serving the ICP for 11 and 21 years, respectively, in numerous and immeasurable capacities.

Let us all continue to support the different activities of the ICP.

Sincerely,
ICP Election 2021 Committee
Dr Fabian Dayrit (Chair)
P/LtCol Victor Drapete (Member)
Ms Priscilla Alice Samonte (Member)

ICP Board Election 2021: List of Candidates and How to Vote

The following individuals have been nominated for the 2021 ICP Board Election (click on the name of a candidate to view their brief profile and statement of candidacy):

Academe
Dr Lilibeth Coo (University of the Philippines Diliman)

Government
Mr Admer Rey Dablio (Industrial Technology Development Institute, DOST)

Industry
Mr Mark Grageda (Berris Agricultural Co. Inc.)

The election (through online voting) will be from June 16 (Wednesday), 9AM until June 29 (Tuesday), 11:59PM.

Voting will be done online (link found below). Only active REGULAR members of the ICP are allowed to cast their votes; an active member is a registered chemist who has an unexpired membership to the ICP (June 2021 to June 2024). Associate members (those with "A" in their membership card number, or members who are chemical technicians) and foreign members of the ICP are NOT required to vote.

The voter is required to present any one of the following proofs of active ICP membership:

  • uploading a scanned copy / photograph of your ICP membership card, or
  • uploading a scanned copy / photograph of your ICP membership application official receipt, or
  • uploading a scanned copy / photograph of your ICP membership confirmation e-mail, or
  • uploading a scanned copy / photograph of your ICP regional chapter membership certificate, or
  • by typing in your ICP membership card number, or
  • by typing in your PRC chemist license number (provided you are an active ICP member).

The ICP Election 2021 Committee shall verify the validity of the voter's active membership to the ICP before his/her ballot is duly counted.

NRCP Division X Membership Cleanup

The National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) is requesting ICP members (either active or inactive) who are also members of NRCP's Division X to fill up a form for a membership cleanup or update. Kindly click on the button below to do so. Thank you.

ICP Board Election 2021: Call for Nominations

The term of office of three members of the ICP Board of Directors expires on 30 June 2021.  Nominations are invited for the election of the ICP Board members who will hold office starting 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2024.

Three board members -- one representative each from the industry, government and academe -- are to be elected. Only active REGULAR members of the ICP (chemists) may nominate and be nominated.

End Term
Academe
Government
Industry
2021 Dr. Lilibeth Coo* Dr. Rosalinda Torres* Ms. Edna Mijares*
2022 Dr. Fabian Dayrit LtCol. Victor Drapete Ms. Ma. Josephine Gonzales
2023 Dr. Glenn Alea Mr. Angelo Bugarin Ms. Priscilla Alice Samonte

* Terms to expire on June 30, 2021.

The elected members of the board are expected to regularly attend the meetings of the ICP and actively participate in activities geared towards achieving the objectives of the ICP as follows:

1. Support the implementation of the Chemistry Profession Act and the Code of Ethics for chemists and safeguard the professional interests of the registered chemists;

2. Make the chemistry professionals (both chemists and chemical technicians) conscious of their serious responsibilities in helping the country develop;

3. Provide a forum to exchange ideas on the chemistry profession;

4. Cultivate discipline among the members, develop the spirit of camaraderie, and maintain occupational standards;

5. Encourage and foster chemical education;

6. Develop a continuing program of activities leading towards upgrading of standards, such as accreditation of laboratories and professional competencies.

Guidelines:

  • Only active REGULAR members of the ICP in good standing can be nominated, submit a nomination, and vote. Nominations cast by active ASSOCIATE members (chemical technicians) and FOREIGN members will NOT be recognized. The ICP Membership Committee shall confirm the status of nominators, nominees, and voters.
  • The nominee must confirm acceptance of nomination by signing the attached nomination form or by sending an email indicating acceptance of nomination. Members may nominate one candidate to each sector. Click here to download the nomination form.
  • The winning candidate from each sector will hold office for a term of 3 years (2021 to 2024).
  • The nomination period is from  18 May to 14 June 2021. Nomination forms should be submitted by e-mail to ICPComelec@gmail.com by 12PM of June 14.
  • The list of nominees will be posted on the ICP website (http://www.icp.org.ph/) by June 15. The election period will be from 15 to 29 June 2021. Results will be announced on June 30.
  • The ICP Elections Committee (ICP COMELEC) for 2021 is made up of the following: Dr. Fabian Dayrit (chair), and LtCol. Victor Drapete and Ms. Priscilla Alice Samonte (members).