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Palace says exam retake is labor department’s call

Palace says exam retake is labor department’s call

By Christine Avendaño, Juliet Labog-Javellana, Philip Tubeza

Published on page A2 of the October 10, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

IN A COMPLETE turnaround, Malacañang is now leaving it to the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) to decide on the fate of the nursing board exams controversy.

Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor said yesterday that the DoLE and the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) would decide whether a retake of the June nursing licensure examination would be given.

“We will stand by their decision,” Defensor said in a phone interview, denying rumors that the issue had become too hot for Malacañang to handle.

“We are not backing out. [But] the DoLE should be the one to work on policy direction regarding this particular case,” he said.

Defensor said any decision made by Labor Secretary Arturo Brion would still be “Cabinet level.” Brion would also “update” the President and her Cabinet “on the actions [the DoLE] would take.”

In other developments:

Senator Panfilo Lacson, who reclaimed chairmanship of the Senate civil service committee investigation, said he was inviting to the Senate Dante Ang, who is chairman of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas and Rene Luis Tadle who is president of the faculty association of the University of Santo Tomas College of Nursing and the Alliance of New Nurses.

Ang, a member of the Cabinet group handling the controversy, was pushing for a retake of the entire exam after Tadle said that five nursing graduates came forward claiming they received leaked questions for Tests III (medical-surgical nursing) and V (psychiatric nursing).

Irresponsible allegations

Administration Representatives Joel Mayo Almario (Lakas, Davao Oriental) and Douglas Cagas (NPC, Davao del Sur) condemned what they said were efforts to muddle the nursing exam leakage issue “in light of unsubstantiated and irresponsible allegations that the leakage was massive.”

They also urged stakeholders in the exam to support the final decision of Malacañang “because it is meant to protect the whole nursing profession.”

Almario called for calm and sobriety among the nursing graduates and their families and to wait for the National Bureau of Investigation’s final report on its investigation set for release on Friday.

In Baguio City, nursing school deans offered free review sessions to licensure applicants who took the tainted June board examinations there.

University of the Philippines professor Erlinda Palaganas, a former governor of the Philippine Nurses Association, said the deans supported the 92 board examinees who exposed the test leakage.

In Dagupan City, board passers of the controversial 2006 nursing licensure examinations held a rally yesterday at the city plaza to protest President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s decision for a retake of the exams.

Black arm bands

Wearing black armbands, the protestors, headed by topnotcher Gringo San Diego, were also supported by students of nursing schools from Dagupan and Baguio cities and other towns in Pangasinan province.

San Diego said the protesters were fighting for “no retake.” He said Tests III and V of the board exams, which were allegedly leaked to review centers, were not included in the computation of the results. “So it should not be an issue anymore,” he said.

In Davao City, around 90 exam passers trooped yesterday to the NBI to sign a joint sworn statement saying that there was no leakage during the conduct of exams here.

In Iligan City, passers of the June 2006 NLE remained firm in their position for a “no re-take.”

In a rally on Thursday, attended by about 200 board passers from Northern Mindanao, the protesters said the retake should only be held in areas where the leak occurred.

“Examinees from Northern Mindanao passed the examinations on their own effort. We did not benefit from any leak,” Yasmine Latras, one of the protesters, told the Inquirer. With reports from Vincent Cabreza and Yolanda Sotelo-Fernandez, Inquirer Northern Luzon; Nico Alconaba and Ritchie Umel, Inquirer Mindanao


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