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Arroyo indecision on nursing test issue hit

Arroyo indecision on nursing test issue hit

Labor Secretary Arturo D. Brion yesterday criticized Malacañang for reversing its position on the retake of the June nursing licensure exams, saying that doing so would only leave the profession prone to controversies.

In an interview with dzXL radio yesterday morning, Mr. Brion remained adamant that students should retake the test to finally put a stop to the issue.

The other day, Executive Secretary Eduardo R. Ermita said the Labor department, to which the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) was recently attached, was reviewing new inputs from stakeholders upon the instruction of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

"The President’s instruction is to restudy, review [the] proposed EO [Executive Order] and rationalize it with the inputs you got from your dialogue with the stakeholders and others," he said.

He also said Mr. Brion was studying the relevance of the case pending before the Court of Appeals and the investigation being conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to the executive order.

But during yesterday’s radio interview, Mr. Brion said that court litigations take up a long time. Given Filipinos’ penchant to submit motions for reconsideration, the case can even go all the way up to the Supreme Court.

"Litigation may even take years," he added.

The former appeals court justice said that Mrs. Arroyo already has sufficient powers to call for a retake of the exams. He said that Malacañang should be firm in order to appease the stakeholders of the industry.

The long wait, he said, is agonizing "for those who [anchor their jobs] on the integrity of the professional licensure exams."

"What will happen to our national pride then," he asked.

Some of the stakeholders, nursing student included, earlier asked the government not to order another retake. Industry participants including the Philippine Nurses Association however said that undergoing another exam will bring back the integrity of the nurses.

Since PRC’s transfer to the Labor department from Malacañang, Mr. Brion has been voicing out his concerns on the controversy.

He said that "integrity is not divisive."

The June examinees, he said, should take again tests 3 and 5 where the leakage allegedly came from.

The NBI is trying to trace the review centers that were reported to have been the source of the leakage of the two tests. A petition has also been filed before the appellate court to invalidate the oath taking administered by the PRC to board passers.

Mr. Ermita had said the NBI should finish its report by Oct. 15. The bureau has initially identified two review centers, while three others are still being investigated. All of these are located in Luzon.

The investigation, noted Mr. Ermita, may have a bearing on who would be asked to retake the exam, as the NBI may be able to identify which examinees attended reviews in centers proven to have caused the leakage.

Mr. Ermita also dismissed talk that the Palace’s pronouncement of a retake last week was made prematurely, saying that he was merely answering questions of what went on during the cabinet meeting.

He also repeated that the government would shoulder the cost of conducting the retake, which he initially estimated at P52 million.

Meanwhile, opposition lawmakers in the House of Representatives yesterday described Malacañang’s move as a "chronic" policy reversal "reflective of its decision-making process."

Representative Gilbert C. Remulla of Cavite said the Palace announcement would push more nurses to seek jobs overseas after the Arroyo administration failed to keep its word.

He said Mrs. Arroyo’s "triple flip-flop" has "exacerbated the tension and aggravation of the examinees" who only want final resolution to problems.

Bayan Muna Representative Teodoro A. Casiño said that the biggest problem is not the alleged "cheating" in the nursing examinations but the "indecisiveness of the Arroyo government." -- Ira P. Pedrasa and M.S.M. Reyes


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