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Palace blinks on retake of nursing exam, awaits CA ruling

Palace blinks on retake of nursing exam, awaits CA ruling
By Paolo Romero
The Philippine Star 09/30/2006

Malacañang is temporarily putting on hold the implementation of President Arroyo’s order for a retake of the June nursing licensure examinations pending the decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) on the tests, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said yesterday.

However, Ermita also said Mrs. Arroyo’s directive stands, as the government needs to protect the integrity of the country’s nursing profession in the eyes of the international community and the local medical care industry.

"By the rule of law we have to consider that there is such a case in court," Ermita told reporters following an emergency Cabinet meeting at Malacañang yesterday on typhoon "Milenyo." "But there is already a decision in principle by the President."

"Definitely we cannot take action on the extent of the retake, on who should retake (the exam), we don’t know how the CA will bear on the decision of the President," he said.

He also said the Palace wants the retake of the exams to be conducted before the regular tests in December. He said the government will release the initial P52 million needed to subsidize the examination retake.

Professional Regulation Commission Chairwoman Leonor Rosero earlier said the PRC cannot immediately act on Mrs. Arroyo’s directive because the government must await the CA decision on the petition filed a month ago by faculty members of the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) college of nursing, the League of Concerned Nurses and the Binuklod na Samahan ng mga Student Nurses.

The petitioners sought a retake of the examination after the PRC took a "no retake" stance.

Ermita and Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and PRC are now finalizing the details of the retake while awaiting the CA decision.

"We appeal for the cooperation of all concerned, as this is a matter of national interest," Bunye said in a statement. "There could be no better way, at least for the meantime, for us to ensure the integrity and reputation of our health professionals in the eyes of the people and the world."

Bunye made the statement as he gave assurances that the "architects of this scam who have messed up the honor of nursing profession will be brought to justice."

"Upholding the integrity not just of the nursing licensure examinations but those of other professions is the primordial reason for the President’s decision to order a retake," he said.

Ermita also offered consolation to the examinees: They will no longer have to pay examination fees, as the government will subsidize their retaking the nursing exam.

He said the government would fork out P52 million to cover the cost of retaking the licensure examination.

"We appeal for the cooperation of all concerned, as this is a matter of national interest," Bunye said.

Ermita also expressed hope that the CA will make a speedy resolution of the case so the government can start working on the guidelines for the retake with deference to the court decision.
Not contemptuous
Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez said the President’s order for a retake of the nursing licensure examinations marred by a leakage scandal is not contemptuous, despite the matter pending before the CA.

In a telephone interview, Gonzalez said Mrs. Arroyo’s decision was made following a majority position taken by members of the Cabinet during their meeting the other day.

"Well, I don’t think that is contemptuous. The matter of pendency of the issue with the Court of Appeals is being taken into consideration by Malacañang," he said.

Gonzalez said the retake of the nursing examination does not cover all the subjects and will be confined to only the two subjects allegedly marred by leakage.

"The CA is right now actually preventing the oath-taking," he said. "If that temporary restraining order (TRO) stands, then, it has enough basis. If the CA will eventually rule that there will be a retake, then (the President’s retake order) will be in accordance with the CA’s ruling."

On Sept. 12, the PRC and the Board of Nursing (BON) asked the CA to lift the TRO it issued last month, which stopped the oath-taking of over 15,000 new nurses.

In a 48-page comment with prayer for the lifting of the TRO filed through Assistant Solicitor-General Amy Lazaro-Javier, the PRC and the BON said the UST College of Nursing Faculty Association led by its president Rene Luis Tadle, the League of Concerned Nurses headed by its president Earl Francis Sumile and the Binuklod na Samahan ng mga Student Nurse led by Michael Angelo Brant have no legal standing to file their case.

The PRC and BON said Tadle, Sumile and Brant’s groups have not proven the actual injury they would suffer from the PRC’s decision not to order a retake of the nursing licensure examination.

The PRC and BON also noted that two of the petitioners are not even registered nurses or examinees in the recent nursing examination.

"Even if they were, they have utterly failed to prove that their right to life, liberty and property is impaired or in danger of being impaired, their reputation in the nursing or academic community prejudiced, or their financial or economic status diminished," the PRC and BON said in their petition. — With Aurea Calica, Jose Rodel Clapano, Delon Porcalla

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