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Court allows nurses to take oath starting today

Court allows nurses to take oath starting today

By Alcuin Papa, Leila Salaverria
Last updated 03:01am (Mla time) 10/27/2006

Published on page A1 of the October 27, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

THOUSANDS of examinees who passed the June nursing licensure exam that was marred by a leakage can now take their oath as professional nurses, the Court of Appeals said yesterday.

Associate Justice Vicente Veloso said there was no legal impediment to the oath-taking, but the lawyer of the University of Santo Tomas nursing faculty, which is pushing for a retake of the exam, said they might go to the Supreme Court to finally settle the leakage issue.

“Those who can take the oath are now embodied in our ruling,” Veloso said. “We have no intention to stop the exercise of the rights of those who passed.”

The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) has provided the appellate court with the names of those who will take the oath.

“We are happy but not very, very happy because of the 1,687 who were being required to retake the tests,” PRC Chair Leonor Rosero said when asked about the appellate court’s decision.
Rosero said the oath-taking, which will begin today at all PRC offices nationwide, would allow the passers to practice their chosen profession. “Now they can move on and join the nursing profession. That is what we want for them,” she said.

Of the 42,006 who took the board exams on June 11 and 12 at 11 test centers across the country, some 17, 000 passed.

The appellate court came up with the decision after more than five hours of conciliation talks with parties concerned.

In attendance were representatives of the PRC, the Board of Nursing (BON), Office of the Solicitor General, and some of the petitioners who have asked the Court of Appeals to reconsider its decision of Oct. 13.

The Court of Appeals ruled then that those who passed the board exam conducted outside Metro Manila and Baguio and those who registered at but did not attend the “final coaching” sessions at three review centers suspected of leaking questions could take their oath as nurses.

The court ordered a retake of Tests III (medical-surgical nursing) and V (psychiatric nursing) for 1,687 examinees who were added to the list of passers after the PRC recomputed the test scores.
It also ordered the reinstatement to the list of passers of the 1,186 graduates whose names were removed following the re-computation.

Labor Secretary Arturo Brion, who has been tasked by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo with resolving the controversy, stopped the PRC on Oct. 16 from administering the oath.
Brion said he wanted to avoid further complicating the situation of examinees in light of the possible filing of a motion for reconsideration. Several groups have since filed a motion for reconsideration asking the court to stop the oath-taking.

Brion, who was supposed to hold conciliation talks with concerned parties so as to discourage them from delaying the retake of the exams by filing a motion for reconsideration, was not at the meeting yesterday.

He is on official trip to Japan, where he is attending a maritime industry conference.
Pia Bersamin, lawyer of the UST nursing faculty, said the meeting between the stakeholders and the Court of Appeals did not resolve anything.

“The meeting did not address the issues that we raised,” a frustrated Bersamin told the Inquirer, referring to the cheating.

“Nothing was resolved with finality. We disagree with the decision to move ahead with the oath-taking because we want the issues to be resolved first,” she said.

Bersamin said the selective retake by some 1,600 nursing graduates of the board exam did not address the issue of the leakage.

She said board passers should not blame the petitioners for “stalling” the oath-taking.

“It was not us who ordered the TRO on the oath-taking and it was not us who made the mistakes in the handling of the issue. They should blame the PRC for that. Our point is to uphold the integrity of the nursing profession. We keep focusing on individual rights but we keep forgetting the common good,” she said.

No basis for retake

Renato Valdecantos, PRC commissioner, said the appellate court’s decision yesterday “sustains our position on the matter that there is no basis to require a retake.”

“This (oath-taking) is one way of putting closure to this unfortunate incident. The other side can go all the way to the Supreme Court. But in the meantime there is no more restraining order and we can go ahead with the oath-taking,” Valdecantos said.

He said the PRC, after due proceedings, could revoke the licenses of those found to have “knowingly benefited from the leakage.”

Valdecantos said it was up to the executive branch, through the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), to determine those culpable of the leakage.

Selective retake in December

For his part, Renato Aquino of the Alliance of New Nurses, which is opposed to a retake, said he was “very happy” with the appellate court’s decision on the oath-taking.

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