THE government has allowed the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) to proceed with the scheduled licensure examinations from May to June this year, Malacañang said on Friday.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) approved in its recent meeting the PRC's request to conduct examinations for professionals amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

"The IATF likewise approved the request of the Professional Regulation Commission to conduct and administer the licensure examinations for professionals scheduled for May and June 2021 following strict health protocols as approved by the Department of Health," Roque said in a statement.

"Examinees from areas under General Community Quarantine are strongly discouraged from traveling to areas under Modified General Community Quarantine to prevent Covid-19 transmission to low-risk areas," he added.

Last year, the PRC postponed the scheduled licensure examinations for professionals due to the pandemic.

PRC chairman Teofilo Pilando Jr. said the commission would be holding over 100 licensure exams this year, to make up for the ones that had to be cancelled due to restrictions because of the pandemic.

"Because only 11 exams were conducted last year compared to the 83 examinations in 2019. To make up, we have scheduled 101 licensure examinations for 2021," Pilado said in an earlier televised interview.

Pilado said the exams which were considered priority were ones which were related to the pandemic.

Among those that would be happening this year are licensure exams for medical technology, sanitary engineering, veterinary medicine, social work, licensure for physicians, respiratory therapy, and optometry.

Pilado said strict health protocols will be followed to ensure the safety of all. These include PCR tests for both examinees and examination personnel, adding more examination venues so those taking the tests would not have to travel far, and reducing the capacity per room for 24 to eight.

The PRC official also said they had considered computer-based examinations even before the pandemic and hoped to use this method by the end of the year.

He noted professions that might be included in online exams were metallurgy engineering and naval architecture.

"We are studying laws of each profession, as well as issues on privacy, security and then appropriate technology. Hopefully, we can conduct this before the end of the year, at least for the small boards, meaning boards where there are few examinees, so it will be more manageable," Pilado added.

In December last year, Iligan Rep. Frederick Siao called for the resumption of PRC’s board examinations in 2021 to avoid manpower shortages amid the Covid-19 crisis.