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MANILA, SEPTEMBER 4, 2006 (STAR) Officials of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) are not totally off the hook from any action that President Arroyo might take to cleanse the agency after the cheating-tainted nursing board examinations last June, Malacañang said yesterday.

"I think nothing is safe and quiet in the PRC as far as their positions are concerned," presidential chief of staff Michael Defensor told reporters.

"I will not say categorically if there will be a revamp or there will be a re-organization. But the issue is not yet resolved and it is not yet quiet there in that front. Let’s just await the President’s decision," Defensor said.

He noted this was not the first time that the PRC got embroiled in controversy.

Defensor cited the case of the West Negros College examinees who passed the nursing board exams last December but could not take their oath because of alleged charges of overloading.

Most of the examinees came from the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Bacolod City, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Bohol, Cebu and Negros Oriental.

"This is the second time that the PRC is involved in a scandal. Most of those who passed the exam (in Bacolod) were already doctors and so it was easier for them to take the (nursing board exam). But they could not take their oath," he said.

Mrs. Arroyo earlier vowed to implement reforms in the PRC and ordered the replacement of all the board of examiners. But she defended PRC Chairwoman Leonor Tripon-Rosero from calls of ouster, saying the nursing board leakage was an isolated case.

Meanwhile, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the PRC were wrapping up their investigation of the matter.

"We are confident that their combined recommendations will lead to the punishment of the guilty, exculpation of the innocent and prevention of any recurrence of the incident," Bunye said.

Two examiners — Virginia Madeja and Anesia Dionisio — are facing criminal and other charges for allegedly being responsible for the leak.

Various sectors are pressing the NBI to speed up its investigation and punish the review centers and even the students who benefited from the leakage in certain areas.

Bunye and Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the Palace was amenable to a selective retake of last June’s board exam in areas where there had been a leak of the questionnaires.

Mrs. Arroyo said she already ordered Rosero to determine how the guilty could be punished and the innocent be spared from any penalties.

Meanwhile, passers in the leakage-tainted licensure test for nursing have found a new calling and decided "to put up a foundation that will help poor nursing students."

"From a simple, informal alliance, we have evolved into a foundation that will help others build dreams. We will give hope to those who are poor but want to become nurses in the future," said Renato Aquino, head of the Alliance of New Nurses.

The alliance was formed in the wake of divided opinions whether or not the passers should retake Test 3 and 5 of the licensure test, whose questions were said to have been leaked out.

The leakage issue has resulted in the issuance by the Court of Appeals of a temporary injunction order on the oath-taking of more than 17,000 passers in the June licensure test.

Aquino noted they already received a start-up fund of P100,000 from GSN Inc., a health staffing company based in California.

Earlier, GSN Inc. executive director David Huff gave assurances to passers who trooped to the PRC after the TRO was issued that he was willing to help them get hired in the United States. — Aurea Calica, Sheila Crisostomo


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