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‘Nursing test retake order stands’

‘Nursing test retake order stands’

By Juliet Labog-Javellana, Jerome Aning
Last updated 01:35am (Mla time) 10/01/2006

Published on page A2 of the October 1, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

PRESIDENT Macapagal-Arroyo’s order for a partial retake of the tainted 2006 nursing licensure examinations stays despite a pending case in the Court of Appeals, according to Dante Ang, chair of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas.

“As of this moment, the President has not changed her mind. The President’s stand is for a retake of Tests III and V,” Ang said in a phone interview.

Ang made the statement after Malacañang appeared to backtrack on the President’s decision to order a retake of the parts of the June exams affected by the leak of test questions.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said Malacañang was not taking final action until the Court of Appeals resolved various petitions seeking a reexamination and the invalidation of the oaths taken by the board passers.

Ang said it was “within the powers of the executive [branch] to come up with its own decision” in order to restore the integrity of the nursing profession and the licensure exams.

Ang heads the task force that investigated the reported test leaks. He confirmed that he was one of the Cabinet officials who recommended a retake of Tests III and V during a Cabinet meeting last Tuesday.

But he said it was Labor Secretary Arturo Brion who convinced the Cabinet to take the option of a retake of Tests III and V involving medical-surgical and psychiatric nursing subjects.

According to Ang, Brion said a retake of only the portions affected by the leakage would be enough to restore the integrity of the nursing profession and licensure exams.

“My position is if the system is flawed, anybody who comes out of it is questionable and under a cloud of doubt,” Ang said.

But Senators Richard Gordon and Rodolfo Biazon said Malacañang should wait for the decision of the CA.

“Out of respect for the court they should not make a decision ahead of the ruling because that would be contemptuous behavior,” said Gordon, who authored the resolution which prompted the Senate civil service committee to investigate the test leak scandal.

Gordon’s position was that a retake be required only for the clients of review centers in Baguio City and Metro Manila which benefited from the leaked test questions.

Requiring all candidates to retake the exams would be unfair to those who did not benefit from the leak, he said.

Various professional nursing groups, including the University of Sto. Tomas College of Nursing, the League of Concerned Nurses and the Binuklod na Samahan ng mga Student Nurses, last month filed a petition asking the appellate court to order a retake.

They were able to obtain a CA order stopping the oath-taking of board passers ordered by the Professional Regulation Commission. They also asked the CA to invalidate the oaths that were given before the court order was handed down.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye explained that while the President was standing firm on a retake, “We are constrained from immediate action by the pending cases before the court.”

“But we will not abandon our resolve to settle this issue once and for all, under the rule of law and the public interest,” said Bunye.

“The President has expressed her desire for a retake as the only way we can redeem the integrity of the nursing licensure exam as well as the overall reputation of our professional health care workers,” he said.

The Department of Labor and Employment yesterday said it may ask the national government to subsidize the funding for the retake of the nursing board exams if it should push through.

Brion said he would meet with PRC officials to discuss the nursing exam controversy as well as measures to maintain the integrity of the professional licensure exams being administered by 43 professional boards under the commission.

When the controversy first broke, the PRC argued against a retake, saying it was convinced that only 3,000 out of the 17,000 who sat for the exam last June were able to gain access to the leaked test questions.

Brion sought to assure the PRC boards that the executive order placing the commission under the DOLE did not mean that the the department would be controlling the operations of the commission.

“We will only provide guidance and monitor [their] operations for the Office of the President but not control them,” he explained.

The individual boards were created by law and function independently as examination-givers and judges of administrative cases lodged against licensed professionals. With a report from Gil Cabacungan Jr.


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