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Cheating in Manila, Baguio only -- NBI

Cheating in Manila, Baguio only -- NBI

17 officials of 3 review centers implicated

By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., Juliet Labog-Javellana
Last updated 02:22am (Mla time) 10/12/2006

Published on Page A1 of the October 12, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

THE NATIONAL Bureau of Investigation yesterday announced that the leak of test questions for the controversial nursing licensure examination was limited only to testing centers in cities of Metro Manila and in Baguio City, covered only Tests III and V, and was perpetrated by 17 officials of three review centers.

The names of the concerned officials and review centers will be made public after the NBI submits its formal report to the Department of Justice, which will file charges of violation of Republic Act No. 8981, or the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) Modernization Act, NBI Director Nestor Mantaring said at a news briefing.

The review center officials are facing imprisonment from six years and one day to 12 years.

No PRC official was found culpable because, Mantaring said, the previous investigation showed that the manuscript containing the leak had come from Board of Nursing members Anesia Dionisio and Virginia Madeja.

A five-member panel had earlier been formed by the Ombudsman to investigate Dionisio and Madeja for graft and corruption.

Mantaring said the government did not consider these accused as flight risks because he considered them “professionals.”

With its findings, the NBI considers the case closed.

“We have to close the investigation. Otherwise we’ll have no end to these investigations,” Mantaring told the Inquirer.

Asked to comment, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said: “Yes, I agree with him that the case is closed as far as the NBI is concerned.”

He said the NBI’s job of “investigating the facts behind the leakage,” as well as the matter of deciding on the issue of a retake, was now in the hands of Cabinet officials.

Labor Secretary Arturo Brion said the NBI submitted to him yesterday morning its partial report on the extent and perpetrators of the leak. He said the complete report would be given to him tomorrow.

Brion said he would issue a department order on Monday at the latest as to whether a retake would be required of those who passed the June 11-12 board exam.

‘Nationwide’ probe

“As much as possible, I want this over within this week. I’m as eager as everyone [else] to finish this and to put a closure to this nursing exam leakage, so let’s see what we can do,” he told Senate reporters after his confirmation by the Commission on Appointments.

At the briefing, Mantaring said the NBI had “terminated” its “nationwide” inquiry into the leak.

“We are recommending the filing of charges against 17 people in connection with this investigation. We found evidence to support our findings that the leakage was in the areas of Baguio and (Metro) Manila. In other areas, although there were rumors that there was leakage, we found no evidence to support that allegation,” he said, adding:

“All factors were taken into consideration in the analysis and evaluation of facts. I am confident that it will warrant conviction.”

The NBI had 20 witnesses in the investigation, including the persons responsible for photocopying the manuscript containing the leaked questions and answers, which were attested to by the copier operators.

“We have documentary evidence showing that the manuscript prepared by the examiner found its way to the review centers,” Mantaring said.

He said that in finding the culprits, investigators compared the results of the three suspected review centers with the general average results of all the examinees.

All rumors

According to Mantaring, the NBI looked into all the rumors, as well as claims that the leak covered, not only Luzon, but also the Visayas and Mindanao, and not only Tests III and V but also Tests I and II.

“Aside from Baguio and (Metro) Manila, there was no evidence gathered that there was also leakage in some examination centers,” he said.

Mantaring said the NBI could not find proof that the branches of the three suspected review centers had also distributed test questions to their branches in the Visayas and Mindanao.

“The possibility is always there for the review centers [to give out the answers to their branches outside Baguio and Manila], but we have to go by the evidence,” he said.

While the NBI had no recommendation on whether a retake should be conducted, Mantaring conceded that it would be difficult to identify the examinees who had used the leak to pass.

“It would be very hard to pinpoint who benefited because there are times that some students who had the leak did not use it,” he said.

Ermita said the NBI could not yet reveal how many examinees from Baguio and Metro Manila would be affected because the bureau was still matching the list of examinees who passed with the list of those who had enrolled in the three suspected review centers.

He said the count would be useful should the government decide to order a partial retake.

Ermita also said the concerned review centers were those that had been earlier named in the newspapers.

No need to wait

Brion said he did not have to wait for the Court of Appeals to decide on petitions contesting the move of the PRC to administer the oath to some of the board passers.

He said that as he had explained to lawmakers, the executive branch could act on the issue.

“I believe that the executive [branch] can and should act to end this issue as soon as possible for the sake of our examinees,” he said.

To this, PRC Chairperson Leonor Tripon-Rosero said she had no comment.

But she said in a phone interview that the PRC had twice met with Brion and recommended that the government wait to see how the appellate court would rule on the matter.

The meetings took place on Sept. 27 and 30, she said.

The appellate court had earlier issued a 60-day temporary restraining order on the oath-taking of the board passers.

Rosero also said the PRC was sticking by its position against a retake.

Earlier, in an effort to remove the effects of the leak, the PRC invalidated 20 leaked questions in Test III of the exam and reduced the weight of the scores in Test V because 90 of its 100 questions had been leaked.

He has the power

Asked if the PRC would follow Brion’s decision if he orders a retake, Rosero said: “We will leave it to our professional judgment.”

Brion said that as for the department order he would issue, “I will aspire for Saturday or Sunday.”

“If not, [it will be] not later than Monday. The issue here is the validity of the [draft executive order] for a retake and the [PRC] Resolution No. 31 [for no retake],” he said.

Asked if President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo could change his order, Brion said: “Of course, everybody is under the control of the President. But she has already given me the power to make a decision here.”

Brion said the NBI report would not be the only basis for his decision because he had to consider the sentiments of various stakeholders affected by the controversy.

“The NBI report is important for purposes of our consideration, but it is not the only item ... There are many other factors that we have to consider,” he said.

Japan’s concerns

Brion said concerns had been raised not only by the nursing profession but also by foreign governments.

He said a representative of the Japanese Embassy met with him yesterday morning to express Japan’s concern, which stemmed, he said, from the recently forged Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement that allows for the employment of Filipino nurses and caregivers in that country.

Brion said the Philippine labor attaché in Brussels also informed him on Tuesday night of a similar concern.

“He asked me what had happened because Brussels is asking. And when you speak of Brussels, you speak of the European Union,” Brion said. With a report from Leila B. Salaverria

Congratulation marunong kayo mag-playsing sa report niyo sa imbestigation.....

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