In a country that needs to provide its less fortunate citizens with opportunities to earn an honest living, government should find ways to open the doors for gainful employment and not the other way around.

This according to Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who urged the Department of Health (DOH) to suspend its “No License, No Massage” order and work with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to come up with massage therapist requirements that are “inexpensive, accessible, and inclusive” so as not to deprive Filipinos of a viable alternative for employment.

Under DOH Administrative Order ‎2010-0034, no person is authorized to practice massage therapy in the Philippines without holding a valid certificate issued by the Committee of Examiners for massage therapy and approved by the Health Secretary.

To become a licensed massage therapist (LMT), one would be required to undergo six months of training before taking a licensing exam that is given only twice a year. The training program costs eight to 15 thousand pesos and is conducted only by DOH-accredited training centers. Furthermore, only high school graduates are allowed to take the exams and become LMTs.

The senator from Mindanao said he understood where the DOH was coming from, “but imposing unreasonably restrictive requirements on LMTs could negatively impact an industry that employs thousands of our citizens, including Filipinos with disabilities.”

“Its a painful reality that many of our people cannot afford to go to school and obtain their high school degrees. But that shouldnt prevent them from getting employed,” said Pimentel.

The solon called on the DOH to work with TESDA so that it could improve the latters existing training system without making it more difficult for individuals to become massage therapists.

“TESDA already has training centers all around the country, while DOH-accredited training centers are very few. These TESDA training centers offer massage therapy courses for minimal fees, sometimes even for free. Tulungan na lang nila ang TESDA para pagandahin ang training para iisa na lang ang lisensya o certification na kailangan ng masahista. (They should just help the TESDA improve their training so that a massage therapist only needs one license or certificate.)”

Pimentel pointed out that the NCII certificate for massage therapist currently issued by the TESDA is recognized not only in the Philippines, but in other countries as well.

“It would be instructive for the DOH and TESDA to study how a country like Thailandknown worldwide for its massage industrycertifies its massage therapists. From what I understand Thai massage therapists only need to undergo 150 hours of massage training and attend a one-week seminar before becoming an accredited massage therapist. These are reasonable requirements.”

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