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Court asked to stop nurses from taking oath

Court asked to stop nurses from taking oath

By FRANCIS EARL A. CUETO, The Manila Times Reporter

A nursing school dean on Thursday asked the Court of Appeals to stop nursing students who passed the leakage-tainted licensure exams from taking their oath this month.

Dean Marco Antonio Sto. Tomas, vice-president of the Association of Deans of the Philippine Colleges of Nursing, petitioned the court for a temporary restraining order a day after an examinee described at a Senate inquiry how he and other reviewers were shown test questions in advance by the president of the Philippine Nurses Association.

Sto. Tomas wanted the August 22 oath taking of successful examinees before regional officers of the Professional Regulation Commission stopped because it would be shrouded in doubt.

He said it was "incomprehensible" that the PRC released the results of the exams and allowed a voluntary retake despite allegations of a leak.

"What are they trying to protect? The biggest question now is: who was paid the P7 million?" Sto. Tomas said, referring to the money that two examiners allegedly received in exchange for the leak.

At Wednesday’s Senate hearing, Eufemia Octaviano, the PRC’s Board of Nursing chairman, testified that she and colleague Anesia Dionisio spent for their trip to Switzerland, which was allegedly part of the package.

Sto. Tomas insisted on a retake for all examinees because "there’s no other way to redeem the credibility" of the nursing board exam given in June.

Rene Tadle of the task force on leakage based at the University of Santo Tomas supportsed Sto. Tomas’ position.

He said that despite UST’s 83-percent passing rate in that board exam, allowing all the successful examinees to get their licenses to practice with this still unresolved leak scandal "posed a danger to public health and safety as their competencies were not properly measured."

"This is very, very painful for us, but we’re telling our students that this is beyond the individual now, this involves the integrity of the exams themselves," Tadle said.

He appealed to the PRC to listen to their petitions to have the oath-taking stopped.

"Please listen to us. [The scandal] is not our fault. It is not the fault of the examinees. But nothing but a retake can resolve the issue. What will happen if they are later proven wrong? Will they take back the licenses they issued? Kawawa naman ang mga bata [Pity the examinees]," Tadle said.

Sto. Tomas also confirmed that George Cordero, president of the Philippine Nurses Association, had resigned after he was implicated at the hearing. An examinee, Dennis Bautista, said that the leak originated from Cordero himself.

Sto. Tomas said Marilyn Yap, PNA vice-president for administration, would succeed Cordero.

He said, however, that other PNA officials from the regions were calling for the resignation of all five members of the PNA executive committee.

He said Victoria Ramon, PNA vice-president for programs, should also resign after Bautista told the hearing that Ramon was in the final coaching session at SM Manila, where the leaked questions were given to the students.

Ramon admitted that she was there but only because her daughter was an examinee.

On Thursday Sen. Richard Gordon called for the overhauling of the system in the nursing profession.

"Why can an owner of a nursing school also own a review center and at the same time be appointed as president of the Philippine Nurses Association?" Gordon asked, alluding to Cordero, who also owns the Philippine College of Health Sciences (PCHS) and INRESS Review Center.

"The situation and the names of persons given in the exam were exactly the same as the questions flashed on the screen during our final coaching," Bautista told the Senate Committee on Civil Service and Government Reorganization, headed by Sen. Rodolfo Biazon.

Pamela Ortega, also a PCHS student, confessed to Dr. Letty Kuan, a member of the Board of Nursing, that she overheard Cordero saying during the final coaching at SM Cinema in Manila that he "did not pay P7 million for nothing" in relation to the leakage.

Cordero has accused Ortega of providing the R.A. Gapuz Review Center with copies of the handwritten leakage.

The PRC has recommended administrative charges against Board of Nursing members Anesia Dioniso and Virginia Madeja for neglect of duty.

The PRC also found that Cordero was involved in the leakage.With Ronnie E. Calumpita


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