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Groups want PRC out of nurse test probe

Groups want PRC out of nurse test probe
By Sheila Crisostomo
The Philippine Star 08/22/2006

Various groups want the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) off the investigation of the leakage in the June nursing licensure examination.

Fely Marilyn Lorenzo, executive director of University of the Philippines’ Institute of Health Policy and Development Studies, said yesterday they want the PRC to be replaced in the probe by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO). "It seems the PRC is botching up Executive Order 550. I

If PRC can’t do the cleanup, we are turning to CFO. The CFO can do it," Lorenzo told The STAR.

Under EO 550, the CFO, headed by Dante Ang, was tasked to establish a National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) testing center in the Philippines and to preserve the integrity of the licensure test for nursing.

NCLEX is administered to nurses who want to work in the United States and its territories. Lorenzo said they were to meet with Ang yesterday to ask him to help them clean up the nursing profession.

Aside from Lorenzo, the meeting was expected to be attended by representatives of various organizations such as the Association of Deans of Philippine Colleges of Nursing Inc. and the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA).

She added that although the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has taken over the investigation of the alleged leakage of answers prior to the nursing exams, they no longer want the PRC to be involved.

"We are not sure if the PRC has the will to pursue the investigation further. After the NBI has completed the investigation, where are they going to submit their report?" she said.

Lorenzo said they want a "higher body" like the CFO to be involved in the investigation. She added that the manner in which the Philippine government addresses the leakage issue is very vital to the future of Filipino nurses because countries that employ them are watching.

Lorenzo said the PRC committed three blunders in the way it handled the controversy.

She said the commission’s first mistake was that it should have not released the results of the licensure test pending the investigation.

Another of the PRC’s mistakes is that it should not have allowed a retake of the examination by successful examinees, even if it is on their own volition, she said.

Lorenzo said neither should the PRC have allowed the oath-taking to take place.

The oath-taking was stopped last Friday after the Court of Appeals issued a temporary restraining order upon the request of the University of Sto. Tomas’ College of Nursing Faculty Association, the League of Concerned Nurses and the Binuklod na Samahan ng Student Nurses.

The petitioners also filed a supplemental petition seeking to invalidate the oath-taking administered by the PRC among some successful examinees last Thursday and Friday.

Lorenzo added they do not want things to be rushed up to the point of compromising integrity in dealing with the leakage controversy.


The CFO will recommend that all examinees in last June’s licensure test for nursing retake Test 3 and 5, which have been leaked prior to the examination. Ang said the commission will also push for the nullification of the oath-taking already executed by the PRC.

He noted that it was not enough that the PRC invalidated Test 3 and 5 and adjusted the computation of the examinees’ score to preserve the integrity of the five-part licensure test.

"If you take out that two subjects, you effectively lowered the passing average and since you lowered the passing average, you effectively lowered the bar of excellence, the bar of competence. And competence is the issue here. How competent are our nurses?" Ang told The STAR.

He maintained that Tests 3 and 5 are vital to the nursing profession as they cover medical surgical nursing and psychiatric mental health, respectively.

Ang debunked PRC’s pronouncement that statistically, the adjustment of the computation had not affected the examination.

"We are not talking of statistics. We are talking about human lives and health care. So my take here is that we should concern ourselves over the national dignity or our nurses’ dignity. Dignity should take precedence over expediency," he said.

The CFO came up with the recommendations after convening its members last Thursday. "All it takes is for the PRC to order (the retake). But I don’t know since they (already) came up with a decision to allow the students who passed the three subjects to take their oath.

There must be some legal implication," Ang said. Ang said while the PRC is one of the members of CFO’s task force that is working to establish a NCLEX testing center in the country, it remains an independent body.

"The task force can move independent of PRC and vice versa... The PRC can listen to us, can heed or reject our recommendations. It’s up to them if they want to move along with us," he said. But the CFO is set to submit their recommendation to President Arroyo anytime this week.

Ang, however, is not certain if she could order the PRC to implement a retake. This developed as Ang revealed that the country’s bid to have an NCLEX testing center established here had been impeded by the leakage controversy.

NCLEX is administered by the National Council of State of Board of Nursing — a non-profit organization comprised of the board of nursing of 50 states in the United States, the district of Columbia and five US territories — for foreign nurses who want to work in US hospitals. At present, most Filipino nurses take the NCLEX either in Hong Kong or Guam.

"Our chance (has gone). It will no longer be taken up by the board (Council), not in the near future," Ang said. He said there was still no formal correspondence from the US about this, but "that’s the report that we are getting from the US. There’s no formal report but that’s it. That would be like that."

Examinees refuse retest

Some successful examinees said yesterday they will not take the nursing licensure test again since they have already passed.

"We would like to maintain our stand that we opt not to retake because we know in our hearts that most of us never saw that handwritten questions with the corresponding answers prior or during the exam.

And if some of our colleagues did, please note that they are also victims. Prior to the exam, the pressure on us was to pass and now that we hurdled that exam, the pressure for us is to fight (for) our right to have that license," the Alliance of New Nurses Passers of June 2006 NLE said in a statement.

The group said they were sad to hear that the Board of Nursing informed them that their colleagues could not take their oath due to the TRO.

"We denounce some quarters who could not accept their fate that their school did not achieve the desired percentage of passing. Why deprive those of us who passed just to protect the reputation of your school? The students of your school are with us but they could not come out (in) the open for fear of you not releasing their credentials," they said.

The group also denounced some members of the media for alleged biased reporting.

"Somebody said in her news report that among those who took their oath in Cebu, many benefited from the leakage. Please stop the accusatory remarks. You are not only hurting us and destroying the family names our parents and generations before us tried to keep clean. You are destroying peoples’ lives by making a sweeping statement (about) all of us," they said.

The group called on the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) under the new leadership of Marilyn Yap to be with them in this fight. They said they would like to move on and seek employment as well as "justice. Hear us out. Hear out the cries of the 17,821 new nurses."

Close down some schools

Lone Catanduanes Rep. Joseph Santiago called on the Commission on Higher Education yesterday to close down nursing schools and review centers allegedly involved in the leakage of test questions because they "have forfeited the privilege to continue to provide educational services. They have no right to stay in business a minute longer."

The PRC has so far implicated at least two nursing board review centers in the leakage — Inress Review Center Inc. and R.A. Gapuz Review Center Inc. Santiago also urged local government units to padlock these review centers, which "as local business entities, are under the supervision of local governments."

Three persons — former PRC Board of Nursing members Anesia Dionisio and Virginia Madeja and resigned PNA president George Cordero — have so far been implicated in the leakage. Santiago said Cordero "owns Inress and the Philippine College of Health Sciences (PCHS), one of the substandard nursing schools in the country, according to CHED."

CHED records show that between 1999 to 2003, a total of 278 graduates of the PCHS took the nursing licensure examinations. However, only 59 of them or 21 percent passed the eligibility tests.

No records were readily available as to the performance of the school’s nursing graduates in the licensure tests from 2004 to 2006.

PCHS, however, produced at least one graduate who managed to land in the top 10 passers in the controversial June licensure examinations.

During a Senate inquiry last week, nursing graduate Dennis Bautista, who took the June examinations, testified that Cordero presented the leaked questions during the final coaching sessions for examinees on June 8 and June 9, two days before the licensure examinations.

Bautista said he attended the sessions. Another examinee, Pamela Ortega, a graduate of PCHS, said that during the June 9 coaching session, she also overheard Cordero saying he "did not pay P7 million for nothing." R.A. Gapuz has denied involvement in the cheating, saying it obtained "in good faith" the leaked questions.

The center said it was not aware the questions would actually come out in the examinations. Davao del Sur Rep. Douglas Cagas, meanwhile, urged the Court of Appeals to reconsider its decision to halt the oath-taking of 14,000 nurses today.

The TRO will be in effect for 60 days, or until October this year. "The deferment of the oath-taking of the new nurses is unfair to the innocent ones who strived hard to pass the exam. It is better to free 100 guilty persons than to declare guilty one innocent person," he said. — With Sandy Araneta, Delon Porcalla




alisin ang prc sa investigation? ilipat kay MR. ANG ang authority to investigate? di ba may vested interest?

Ms. or mrs. Lorenzo halatang halata na meron kayong sariling interes kaya isa kayo sa mga nag pupush ng retake.

nakakahiya kayo.

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