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Nursing school tagged in leakage

By Roy Pelovello

An owner of a nursing school and a review center was the source of the leakage that marred the July 11-12 nursing examination, a witness told the Senate yesterday.

Testifying before the Senate committee on civil service and reorganization, witness Dennis Bautista implicated George Cordero, owner of the Philippine College for Health and Sciences and the Inres review center, in the massive cheating. Cordero is also the incumbent president of the Philippine Nurses Association.

The hearing also brought to light possible collusion between Cordero and officials of the Professional Regulation Commission’s Board of Nursing.

According to PNA vice president Victoria Ramon, Cordero is presently confined at St. Luke’s Hospital. Cordero denied the allegation. He said that if there was a leakage, his son should have passed the exam and not flunked it.

Bautista’s testimony dovetailed with a statement a certain Pamela Ortega voluntarily gave to Sr. Letty Kuan, a BON member.

Ortega accused Cordero of making the claim that he spent P7 million and paid for the trip of two members of the board to Switzerland to ensure high marks for examinees from Inres and PCHS.

According to Bautista, Cordero called for a “final briefing” last June 6 for all PCHS nursing graduates and those who were taking review lessons at Inres, as well as several other schools and review centers, held at Cinema 9 of SM Manila.

“She [Ortega] told us Cordero said he would not have spent P7 million for nothing and brought with him two members of the board [BON] to Switzerland and paid for their fare,” Kuan told the Senate.

Bautista said test questions and the corresponding answers on psychiatric nursing and medical-surgical topics were flashed on the screen via Power Point presentation.

“There were 500 questions in Psychiatric Nursing. Of these, 100 items would come out in the exams,” Bautista quoted Cordero as saying.

And when there was disagreement among the audience as to the answer, Cordero said the instructor would invariably say: “That is the answer. Once you see the keyword, that’s what you’re supposed to answer.”

For the Medical-Surgical exam, Bautista said Cordero made a similar claim that from the items presented in the briefing, some would come out in the actual tests.

After taking the test, Bautista said he checked his own notes, as well as photo copies of notes of other nursing graduates who attended the final briefing, and found that there were indeed some of the actual questions asked in the licensure examination.

When the news of the alleged leakage came out, Bautista said he and a fellow examinee decided to inform Cordero about the possibility of a retest by sending him a text message.

“There should be no retest, it would be very costly. I would schedule a dinner with the PRC-board and the owners of the review center,” Cordero was quoted as saying over the phone in one of their conversations.

Bautista also alleged that according to Cordero, it was Ortega who gave copies of the questions in the “final briefing” to the R.A. Gapuz Review Center, one of the nursing review centers earlier suspected as the source of the leakage.

Reacting on the allegations, PRC-BON chairman Eufemia Octaviano admitted she was one of the two BON officials who went with Cordero to Switzerland, although she claimed she paid for her own fare.

Octaviano said that while BON member Remedios Fernandez was supposed to be the other official bound for Switzerland, she got sick and so another BON member, Anesia Dionisio, took her place.

The chairman of the Senate committee, Senator Rodolfo Biazon, stressed in the hearing that among the various actions they are contemplating include recommendation for criminal prosecution of those responsible for the leakage.

But Biazon said they are still looking at a prudent recommendation to resolve the issue, and among the options are: to order a wholesale retake, a partial retake, forget about it, or exclude the items just as the Supreme Court had ruled in a bar leakage case.

But Gordon, who sought the inquiry opposed the decision of the BON for a voluntary retake of the Nursing Board Exam. Biazon shares the view of Gordon.

“The decision of the PRC-BON for a voluntary retake is a cop-out solution. It cannot remove the blemish which taints this batch of nursing examinees brought about by the leakage,” Gordon said.

If the issue is not properly addressed, it would put Filipino nursing graduates at risk of losing employment opportunities.

“She (Ortega) told us Mr. Cordero said he would not have spent P7 million for nothing and brought with him two members of the Board (BON) to Switzerland and paid for their fare,” Kuan told the Senate.

Biazon allowed Bautista to testify, wearing a cap and sunglasses. That is for his safety, Biazon said. With Florante S. Solmerin


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