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CA: ‘Selective retake’ of nursing board exam 17,322 allowed to take oath

By Tetch Torres
Last updated 07:15pm (Mla time) 10/13/2006

(UPDATE) A “SELECTIVE retake” of the nursing licensure exam last June has been ordered by the Court of Appeals since “there was no evidence showing that there was widespread leakage.”

At the same time, the appellate court has allowed 17, 322 successful examinees to take their oath.

In a 33-page decision penned by Associate Justice Vicente Veloso, the court said 1, 687 examinees would retake tests 3 and 5, which the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), by virtue of Resolution 31, invalidated due to reports that questions in those tests had been leaked.

The resolution had also paved the way for a recomputation of the scores, which resulted in the passing of an additional 1, 687 board takers but the removal of 1, 186 names from the original list of successful examinees.

But in its ruling released Friday, the court nullified Resolution 31, which meant that the 1, 687 who passed after the recomputation would have to retake the exam while the 1, 186 who had been removed would be reinstated.

The Court of Appeals said Resolution 31 violated Republic Act 9173 or the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002, which prescribes the means by which one may pass the Nursing examination and consequently be admitted into the nursing practice.

“In this case, respondents' acts of invalidating 20 questions in Test 3 and recomputing the scores in Test 5 indubitably constitute, therefore, grave abuse of discretion,” the court said.

“If despite the leakage, the test results could still form a reliable basis for determining competency, reason dictates that the results as they were, should have been respected by respondents. We thus find respondents' employed scheme...illogical, arbitrary and patently erroneous,” the court said.

“Worse is, in adopting Resolution 31, the respondents increased the passing rate of the June 11 and 12, 2006 examinations from 41.24 percent to 42.42 percent,” the court said.

“Such increase of 1.18 percent, which benefited 1,687 examinees who actually failed [as their names did not appear in the 'unaltered' results] but who resultantly passed when the formula was introduced, constitutes a clear case of grave abuse of discretion. It is whimsical and capricious as said 1,687 examinees were allowed to pass without their satisfying the standards set by the Nursing Act of 2002 on how examinees may be rated in a licensure examination,” the court said.

"The act of failing 1,186 examinees who actually passed in the June 11 and 12, 2006 examination is a serious, if not gravest abuse of discretion one can imagine," the court said.
But the Court of Appeals said that there was no evidence showing widespread leakage.

"Having found, based on unrefuted evidence, that there was no widespread leakage, and absent any preponderant evidence on who specifically benefited therefrom, a ‘retake’ will be too drastic a pill for the examinees to absorb," the court said.

The court also noted that “only the examinees that may be identified by the National Bureau of Investigation to have attended the final coaching at Gapuz, Inress and Pentagon, were to be penalized with a retaking of tests 3 and 5.

The three review centers have been identified by the NBI as having been allegedly involved in the leakage.

Rene Luis Tadle from the University of Santo Tomas’ College of Nursing, the League of Concerned Nurses, and other groups had sought the invalidation of Resolution 31 while Dante Ang, the presidential adviser on migrant workers had petitioned for a retake for tests 3 and 5.

On Thursday, the NBI filed a criminal complaint before the Department of Justice against 17
executives of the R.A. Gapuz Review Center, Inress Review Center, and the Pentagon Review Center.

The NBI however spared the examinees, saying it was “practically impossible” to determine whether any one of them had benefited from the purported leak.

The DoJ will form a five-man panel to conduct a preliminary investigation, Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño had said.


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