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'PNA president paid for test questions' -- testimonies

‘PNA president paid for test questions’ -- testimonies

August 17, 2006
Updated 01:01:58 (Mla time)

(2ND UPDATE) THE president of the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) allegedly boasted of having paid millions of pesos and sending two examiners abroad in exchange for leaked questions to this year’s nursing licensure examinations, according to testimony given before the Senate on Wednesday.

The testimonies indicated that the leakage of the nursing test questions was more widespread than originally thought, when it was believed confined to Baguio.

For the second time in the course of the Senate inquiry into the nursing test scandal, ranking officials of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) snubbed the hearing.

Senator Richard Gordon, for his part, opposed the decision of the PRC Board of Nursing (BON) to allow graduates the choice of voluntarily retaking the nursing board exams, calling it a “cop-out.”

Despite the non-appearance of PRC commissioners, two members of the BON showed up and submitted a clarificatory report on a fact-finding they undertook into the test leak.

BON chairperson Eufemia Octaviano and member Letty Kuan said Pamela Ortega, a graduate of the Philippine College of Health Science (PCHS), approached them after the nursing test and revealed the leak to them.

According to Ortega, whom they interviewed as part of their fact-findings, PNA president George Cordero, who is also president of the PCHS, which has campuses in Manila and Bataan, and the Inress Review Center in Manila, had boasted of paying seven million pesos and sending two BON officials to Switzerland for free.

Cordero, who was invited to the hearing, is confined at Saint Luke's Hospital, according to PNA vice president Victoria Ramon.

GMA Network’s 24 Oras reported that it tried to get the PNA president’s side but that he declined to give a statement.

According to Ortega, during the review's enhancement program, Cordero had given her and other reviewers of Inress a list of 500 questions, of which he said 100 would come out.

“I did not pay seven million pesos and brought two board (of nursing) officials to Switzerland for nothing,” Cordero was supposed to have said, according to Ortega's testimony before Kuan and Octaviano.

“Naghambog ata dun sa kanila (He must have bragged to them),” Kuan told the Senate.

Octaviano admitted she and BON member Anesia Dionisio attended a conference in Switzerland of the International Council of Nurses but added that they spent for the trip on their own.

Kuan also told the Senate that Ortega had reported having been scolded by Cordero after she testified.

The account of the BON members was bolstered by another PCHS graduate, Dennis Bautista, who appeared before the Senate to testify that Cordero handed out a list of questions that eventually came out in the psychiatric nursing, surgical and medical tests.

Like the first examinee, Rachel Cyndi-Erfe of Baguio, who testified before the Senate, Bautista said the examination included questions containing “situations and names exactly the same as those in Cordero's review.”

He said Cordero gave out the “leaks” separately on June 8 and 9 at the Cinema 9 of SM Manila, where the final coaching for Inress reviewers and those invited from other schools took place.

He also told the Senate that Ortega had been scolded by Cordero after she testified and that her diploma and transcript of records have been withheld.

Senator Rodolfo Biazon, head of the committee on civil service and government reorganization which is undertaking the probe, said he received letters from the invited officials informing him of their refusal to attend unless provided with a list of questions to be asked of them.

“Their absence tells us (they are) not concerned with our nurses' welfare,” Biazon said in his introductory speech at the hearing Wednesday.

“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 affecting a significant portion of the recent board examinations,” Gordon said.

Gordon also stressed the need to bring closure to the issue by punishing those whose “rapacity and greed” has put Filipino nursing graduates at risk of losing both local and foreign employment opportunities.

“If this issue is not properly addressed and no closure is brought to this matter, it will haunt these nurses for life and will jeopardize their opportunities for employment both here and abroad,” he said.

“The world looks to the Philippines to fill the nursing shortages in many countries due to the reputation of Filipino nurses for competence, diligence, and compassion,” he said.

Gordon earlier recommended that the last batch of nursing applicants retake the entire nursing exam or at least tests three and five, the sections affected by the leak.

But Biazon said he supports the proposal to give successful examinees the option of retaking the licensure test.

The nursing board given in June was taken by a total of 42,006 nursing graduates.

Forty-two percent or 17,871 of the examinees passed.


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