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MANILA, SEPTEMBER 8, 2006 (STAR) By Sheila Crisostomo - Doctors, nurses, health workers and students picketed the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) offices in Sampaloc, Manila yesterday to demand a speedy investigation into the alleged leakage in last June’s nursing licensure examinations.

Rosamond Olivar, a nurse at the Philippine General Hospital, and Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) spokeswoman, said those behind the irregularity should be identified and prosecuted to preserve the integrity of the nursing profession.

"The BON and PRC are guilty of eroding the integrity of the nursing profession," she said. "These people have shamelessly allowed themselves to be used as pawns of business interests."

Gene Nisperos, HEAD secretary general, said "comprehensive solutions," not mere partial retake of the examinations are needed to uphold the quality of Filipino nurses.

"It is the PRC, BON, Commission on Higher Education and the Arroyo government that should have accountability (in this issue)," he said. "Not the examinees."

Nisperos said Malacañang should not compromise the future of the examinees just to get a testing center of the United States’ National Council for Licensure Examination set up in the Philippines.

"The hand of Malacañang will always be there because these people have been appointed precisely to ensure the continued implementation of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s labor export policy," he said.

"The Arroyo government should stop treating the nursing profession as an export industry in its distorted vision of globalization."

Meanwhile, the Senate has served "show cause orders" to top PRC officials and the National Bureau of Investigation for their failure to attend the inquiry on the alleged examination leakage.

Sen. Rodolfo Biazon, committee on civil service and government reorganization chairman, directed PRC chairwoman Leonor Tripon-Rosero, and commissioners Renato Valdecantos and Avelina dela Rea to explain why they should not be held in contempt for not showing up at the Senate hearings.

The same show cause order was served on lawyer Elfren Meneses Jr., NBI Anti-Fraud and Computer Crimes Division chief.

Retired Maj. Gen. Jose Balajadia Jr. Senate Sergeant-at-arms, through the Senate Legislative Committee secretary Paraluman Zulueta, has informed Biazon that his office has sent the orders to the PRC and NBI officials.

The same were received by their representatives, he added.

In a one-page order, Biazon said the show cause orders were issued because the PRC and NBI officials failed to appear and testify in the committee’s inquiry, in aid of legislation, scheduled last Aug. 30, 2006 despite due notice.

The committee also summoned George Cordero, Philippine College of Health Services president, whose registered address is at Doña Narcisa Building along C.M. Recto Avenue in Manila.

Biazon sought an explanation within five days why Rosero, Valdecantos, Dela Rea and Meneses should not be cited in contempt of the Senate.

The Senate might order the arrest of the PRC and NBI officials if they fail to justify their failure to appear in the Senate hearings.

Cordero, also president of the Inress Review Center Inc. which was linked to the leakage, was also "commanded to appear" on Thursday next week at 10 a.m. for the next hearing at the Senate.

Cordero was directed by the committee to bring with him the list of enrollees at all branches of the Inress Review Center who took the review for the Nurses’ board examinations on June 11 and 12, and the copy of the power point presentation given to reviewees on June 8 and 9 at the SM Cinema in Manila.

"Fail not under the penalty of law," read the one-page subpoena sent to Cordero and signed by Biazon.

Rosero, who attended the budget hearing last Wednesday at the Senate, cited President Arroyo’s memorandum order 108 as a reason for her absence in the hearings on the nursing examinations controversy.

"We came here for the budget hearing. In the other hearings, we were just following the Memorandum Circular 108 guideline," said Rosero, referring to the order of the Palace to secure questions to be asked during inquiries before executive officials would attend congressional inquiries.

Rosero stood pat on the PRC‘s decision not to have a retake of the examinations despite the controversy caused by the alleged leakage.

"When we released the results of the board examination, we decided already that there is no retake," she said.

On Wednesday’s budget hearing, Sen. Franklin Drilon scolded Rosero for her failure to appear in previous hearings of the Senate committee on civil service and government reorganization that conducted the inquiry on the alleged examination leakage.

"You know, we will be more sympathetic to your needs if you appear in the committee hearings of the Senate other than the budget hearings... so how can we be sympathetic to your cause, Chairperson Rosero," he said.

"You ignore the summons of the Senate in the inquiry on the leak... and here you come to us saying, ‘we can utilize P14-million for other activities?"

Drilon was irked when Rosero pushed for the PRC to get the P14-million budget, instead, "for other PRC activities."

Rosero said the additional funds were not needed since the PRC has decided not to go for a re-take of the nursing examinations.

"(Based on) The statistical results, it is impossible for us to identify who benefited from the leakage," she said.

"The leakage came out in the form of a manuscript of 500 test questions prepared by the Board of Examiners and not the actual examination that came out." — With Christina Mendez


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