Since the Covid 19 pandemic lockdown in 2020, the province has strictly enforced border control in accordance with the recommendation of the IATF and BIATF, which directly hampered the local economy especially the tourism sector.

Recently, however, Bohol opened its borders to visitors. It just welcomed the Philippines’ Professional Regulation Commission, through its Professional Regulatory Board of Psychology, in partnership with the Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP), which hosted the “International Psychology Summit on Regulation, Professional Mobility and the Challenges of the Profession” from October 20-23 2022, at Bellevue Resort Hotel in Panglao, Bohol, Philippines via a hybrid face-to-face and online participation.

Dr. Miriam Cue, chairperson of the PRC Board of Psychology, said that “consistent with the Commission’s thrust of promoting the global recognition and mobility of Filipino Psychologists, Philippine Psychologists forged an agreement with member countries of the ASEAN Regional Union of Psychological Societies (ARUPS) on the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications (MRPQ).”

She also noted that to implement this agreement, “a development plan with timelines and priority actions leading to the registration of the ASEAN Psychologists, which was crafted before the pandemic, needs to be established. While this agreement signifies a community of interest among ARUPS member countries, there is still a need to transition from MRPQ to Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA). An ASEAN MRA for Psychological Services should further facilitate a common framework, measures and guidelines for career progression, educational standards, professional practice and other areas of alignment.”

The summit’s objectives were to advance the mutual recognition and collaboration among psychology professionals across countries and regions through international cooperation and collaboration. It hoped to address the challenges of the profession in a highly changing world, along with the need for cross-border supply of professionals and the mutual recognition of both the academic and professional qualifications of these professionals, while promoting the development and use of an internationally endorsed set of core competences that can describe and identify the essential elements of professional psychology practice around the world.

The summit had participants from professional organizations, professional regulatory bodies, and government policy makers involved in research and the practice of psychology from different countries, along with the local psychologists and psychometricians from the Philippines.

Dr. Amanda Clinton, Director for International Affairs of the American Psychological Association, expressed that she thought that “it is impressive that Philippine psychologists are taking notable leadership in answering questions that are critical for psychology across the world.”

She added that “the very idea of discussing the work they do, how they regulate it, and how they do it in a world that’s very mobile, is timely and critical. And, of course, the actual event had been gorgeous.”

Dr. Clinton said that the Philippine psychologists have been visionary in terms of seeking new perspectives. They invited speaker-experts from Colombia, China, the USA, the Philippines and other countries. Some of the delegates participated in person, and some via Zoom. They came together to answer the question of global competency in psychology in a thoughtful, evidence-based and integrated, inclusive way.

According to Dr. Sverre L. Nielsen of the Norwegian Psychological Association based in Oslo, Norway, this event is very important event in many ways. He shared that he was thrilled that Dr. Cue organized this summit, which has not happened before in the ASEAN context.

He said the delegates came “because, in many ways, this is a start for them to work on the next level of professional competencies regulation. This means that the network now has the core competencies accepted internationally. Since some are already using it, and there’s a need to build on it.”

Atty. Antonio Amora, Jr., chief of staff of Gov. Aris Aumentado who is still in South Korea on official visit, welcomed the summit delegates on behalf of the governor.

According to Atty. Amora, hosting this summit is a “clear signal that Bohol has now opened wide its doors to visitors. It is also a welcome indicator that Bohol is ready and capable of catering to international events. Hopefully, it heralds the start of the recovery of Bohol’s local economy particularly tourism after the debilitating pandemic and super typhoon Odette.”

PRC chairperson Charito Zamora and PRC commissioner Erwin Enad attended the summit in person while commissioner Jose Cueto, Jr. attended via Zoom. (MAEP)