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Palace stops oath-taking of new nurses

Palace stops oath-taking of new nurses

Wait for final CA ruling, ‘passers’ told

By Leila Salaverria, Christine Avendaño, Christian V. Esguerra
Last updated 02:29am (Mla time) 10/17/2006

Published on page A1 of the October 17, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

THEY CAME as early as 8 a.m. yesterday to the Professional Regulation Commission office in Sampaloc, Manila, hoping to finally take their oath as nurses after months of delay.

But the joy and relief felt by “passers” of the June 2006 nursing board exam after the Court of Appeals said on Friday that they could take their oath gave way to disappointment and anger when the PRC announced that the oath-taking would not push through.
“I am very, very disappointed,” said Michelle Torio, one of the hundreds of graduates who came to the PRC from various parts of the country. She maintained that she did not cheat.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) stopped the PRC from administering the oath and from issuing licenses to the examinees who passed the nursing licensure exam because the court’s decision was not yet final.

“What if it gets reversed?” said Labor Secretary Arturo Brion, who had been tasked by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to resolve the controversy.

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

Brion noted that the decision still had to be submitted to the clerk of court, before copies of it could be sent to the parties concerned yesterday.

He said he wanted to avoid further complicating the predicament of examinees in light of the possible filing of a motion for reconsideration.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said that deferring the oath-taking would allow the National Bureau of Investigation to identify who among the passers had attended the final coaching sessions conducted by the three review centers.

He said the NBI could find more “passers” who should retake the board exam aside from the 1,687 examinees who the appellate court said should take the new test.

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.

Of the 42,006 who took the board exams on June 11 and 12 at 11 test centers across the country, 17,821 or 42 percent passed.

“Everything is (on hold) until those procedural matters are finalized,” Ermita told reporters.

He said he hoped to complete all this “within 15 days” before the Court of Appeals’ decision is deemed final and executory.

Conciliation talks

Ermita said delaying the oath-taking would also allow Brion to hold “conciliation” talks with the parties concerned to discourage them from delaying the retake of the exams by filing a motion for reconsideration.

“[Others] might go to the Supreme Court and everything would be (put on hold),” the executive secretary said.

The decision to defer the oath-taking came after a meeting among Ermita, Brion and Solicitor General Antonio Eduardo Nachura.

Malacañang favors a partial retake of the board exams to be conducted before the regular nursing licensure exam scheduled for Dec. 2 and 3.

But other groups, including nursing schools and a presidential adviser, favor a retake of the licensure exam by all the June examinees to restore public confidence in Filipino nurses.

At the PRC office, Josefino Lorenzo, president of the Alliance of Parents of the June 2006 Nursing Licensure Exam Passers, said the suspension of the oath-taking was unfair.

“It hurts. It hurts so much,” said Lorenzo, a retired colonel. “The children have long been suffering. They cannot move on.”

Many graduates have been suffering from the lack of job opportunities because they cannot register as nurses and get their licenses, he said.

He called on other parents to join the group and participate in their plans, including mass actions.

Moved to tears

Adding to the disappointment felt by the nursing graduates and their parents at the PRC yesterday was the release of the names of the 1,687 graduates who would have to retake Tests III and V pursuant to the Court of Appeals’ order.

Some of those on the list were moved to tears when they saw their names.

“It’s unfair. They posted the names of passers. It was published. And then we’ll have a retake? What kind of justice do we have,” said a 20-year-old graduate of a college in Laguna province, her voice breaking. “It’s very frustrating.”

She said those who would be made to retake the two tests had been sacrificed. “Instead of the 17,000 who were supposed to undergo the retake, it would just be us so that the population of retakers would be small,” she said.

She said she came to the PRC office, hoping that she would be able to process her papers in preparation for her oath-taking.

However, she was met with the news that she was among those who have to undergo the retake.

Parents in the dark

“My parents don’t know yet. I don’t know if I want to go home and tell them about this,” she said, breaking into tears again.

She said she would wait for the finality of the appellate court’s decision, which will come in 15 days, to find out whether the retake would push through.

The names of the 1,687 graduates who should retake the exam were released at noon yesterday. The list was posted on boards along the narrow sidewalk outside the PRC office, which meant that those who wanted to take a look had to jostle for space.

From the throng of people, shouts of joy would erupt from small groups after they failed to find their names. Some walked away in tears after they saw their names. Others had grim expressions, having seen their friends’ names and having to break the news to them.

PRC Chair Leonor Rosero announced at the PRC auditorium that the oath-taking would not push through at almost 5 p.m. It was met with groans of disappointment.

Board resignation

Most of the crowd expected the oath-taking not to push through, having heard about it from the media even before Rosero arrived. Still, the graduates and parents waited for her to read the official announcement. After the announcement, they left while talking among themselves about their dismay.

In Malacañang, Ermita announced that the resignation of the seven-member Board of Nursing (BON) had been accepted.

Brion had already submitted a list of candidates for the BON. From 31 names, it was down to eight names for consideration.

Those to be appointed would prepare the questions not only for the retake but also for the regular nursing board exam scheduled in December.

“Please take note also that there will be a regular national nursing examination on Dec. 2 and 3. So there will be two examinations, one probably before Dec. 2 for those who were ordered to make a selective retake, and second for the regular examination in December for the regular examinees,” Ermita said.

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