(UPDATE) The buzzer rang.
And the wife of Senator Manuel "Manny" Villar ran out of time to expound her statement, which drew the ire of thousands of Filipino nurses.
"Ang sinasabi namin sa kanila na 'actually, hindi naman kailangan ng nurse na matapos ang BSN (BS Nursing). Kasi itong mga nurses, gusto lang nilang maging room nurse," Villar said, as she responded to a question posed by Winnie Monsod.
"(Kasi) sa Amerika or sa other countries, ano lang sila parang mag-aalaga... Hindi naman kailangan silang maging ganong kagaling," she said in Pagsubok sa mga Kandidato aired over GMA News TV.
The economist asked Villar to substantiate her desire to help the poor when she allegedly sided with the owners of nursing schools accused of providing low-quality education to students.
"How can you reconcile the seeming disconnect [between] 'yung desire ninyo to help the poor at saka yung pagpapanig niyo sa mga owners ng mga educational institutions na gustong isara...," Monsod asked Villar.
To which Villar initially responded that CHED already issued permits for the schools to open and that the owners have already invested in nursing equipment.
Villar was the chair of House Committee on Higher Education, which stopped a government agency from suspending 23 nursing schools in 2005 to 2006.
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) was trying to address poor training that students get from low quality nursing schools.
She argued it was unfair for the 23 nursing schools to be suspended after investing on its facilities, which CHED earlier found lacking of tertiary hospitals where students can train.
"Tiningnan namin yung parang syllabus at yun bang mga courses na kukunin nila at nakita namin na after lang sa third year nila kailangan yung sa tertiary hospitals," she explained.
"So ni-request lang namin na hindi ipasara ang pre-nursing, ying first two years," she noted.
Rage and explanation
Villar issued a statement on her Facebook fanpage after her answer went viral on social networking sites.
"The issue was really beyond me. I just interceded as chairperson of the House Committee on Higher and Technical Education. I have no power neither over CHED nor the nursing schools. As I said, my conciliatory efforts were overtaken by events—the charges filed by the schools against CHED officials," she said.
"The 30-second limit for me to answer the question posed on the news program was too short to give the complete details surrounding the issue. I hope that this statement will clarify the issue. I am sorry if it has created confusion. Thank you," Villar added. The Facebook statement, even the fanpage, were however no longer available by 5:00 pm Sunday.
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But several nurses took to Villar's facebook fanpage their sentiments.
"Hope I'll be given the chance to take care of you to make you feel and realize the we nurses deserve respect and honor," said Nelia Panuayan.
Quei Canlas Vitangcul added: "The purpose of time pressure on debate is that it takes the very core of your SENSES and INTELLECT. Too bad you lack the latter."
Cristy Capili-Bunag also said: "Mabuti pa si Pres. Obama mataas ang pagkakilala sa mga Filipino Nurses.....pero itong Aleng ito na kapwa nating Pinoy....mababa ang pagkakilala sa ating mga Nurses. Hanep ka talaga Aling Cynthia Villar."