MANILA, Philippines – Swamped by an avalanche of protests on social media over her remarks that seemed to belittle the expectations of Filipino nurses, Team PNoy senatorial candidate Cynthia Villar apologized on Twitter to the nurses, nursing students and their families. She said she had no intention of hurting anyone.
"Taos puso po akong humihingi ng paumanhin sa lahat ng mga nurse at kani-kanilang mga pamilya na labis na nasaktan sa aking kasagutan sa tanong na ibinato sa akin ng isang programa sa TV [I apologize most sincerely to all the nurses and their families who were deeply hurt by my reply to a query in a TV program],” Villar said.
She continued, “Alam ko po ang sakripisyo at hirap na pinagdadanan ng mga nurse, mga nursing students at kanilang mga magulang at pamilya upang maitaguyod ang kanilang pag-aaral at propesyon. Hindi rin po lingid sa akin ang malaking tulong ng mga nurse dito sa Pilipinas at sa ibang bansa na nagta-trabaho nang lubos upang makatulong sa kanilang pamilya [I’m aware of the sacrifices made by nurses, nursing students and their families to support their education and their profession. I’m also aware of the substantial contributions to the country of the thousands of nurses working abroad].”
Then she begged for understanding, insisting she bore no malice in her remarks: “Humihingi po ako ng pang-unawa sa lahat ng mga nasaktan sa aking sinabi. Wala po akong intensyong maliitin ang mga Filipino nurses [I plead for understanding from all concerned. I had no intention to demean our Filipino nurses].”
Villar was taken to task at the weekend by a leading Filipino nurse in Saudi Arabia, who had risen up the ranks, through 32 years of work, to become medical coordinator for government hospitals in the kingdom. Nurse Laura Rozario said Villar’s “ignorance” of the state of Filipino nurses disqualified her from a Senate seat.
A few hours later, the association of Filipino nurses in the United Kingdom weighed in on the controversy and demanded an apology from Villar, the Las Pinas representative who is seeking to have a seat in the Senate where her husband Manuel Villar is graduating this June.
In her controversial reply, Villar said Filipino nurses don’t have to strive to have cutting-edge skills since most of them aspire to be “room nurses” or even caregivers.
The mismatch between the supply of nursing graduates and job openings has been a constant concern for labor and education policy planners.