NURSING BOARD PASSERS LAUNCH SIGNATURE DRIVE VS CA ORDER
MANILA, AUGUST 25, 2006 (STAR) By Sheila Crisostomo - Board passers in the leakage-tainted nursing licensure exam last June have formed an alliance and launched a signature drive to demand the prosecution of the perpetrators of the irregularities without sacrificing their wishes not to take another exam.
Renato Aquino, head of the "Alliance of New Nurses," said that they have decided to join forces "so that their voices will be heard."
The group laments the fact that they are being sacrificed by some sectors that are pressing for a retake of Tests 3 and 5.
"This is an informal group but we felt we have to join forces so that our voices will be heard. We are the victims here but we are the ones being prosecuted," he told The STAR.
He said they would collect the signatures of all those who passed the board and submit this to Malacañang, the Senate, House of Representatives and other concerned bodies.
"We are trying to reach out to those in the provinces through the friends of our friends... We are definitely against the retake of exams. It is unfair for us to go through sleepless nights prior to and after the exam just to satisfy the request of a few," he noted.
Aquino said many of the nursing board passers come from provinces and they spend for their board and lodging to review in Metro Manila.
"For those of us who were working, we gave up our jobs or took months off from work without the benefit of compensation just to concentrate on the Board. We missed family gatherings, had broken relationships to get a passing mark," he said.
The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) supports the position of the passers in not taking another nursing exam and gave assurances that the leaked questions have been excluded.
But various sectors, including the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) which has been convincing the United States to put up a National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) testing center in the Philippines, are in favor of a retake of Tests 3 and 5.
Aquino added those behind the leakage should be identified and prosecuted and appealed that they be spared from personal persecution.
"We already suffered persecution from media branding us as a batch of cheaters when in fact, hardly anyone bothered to seek us out to air our side. We were able to pass the board exams with our integrity intact, upholding the family names our parents and our forefathers worked so hard to keep clean," he added.
Meanwhile, the PRC reiterated yesterday that nursing board passers truly deserved the grades they earned.
In a joint statement issued by PRC Chairman Leonor Rosero, Commissioners Avelina dela Rea and Renato Valdecantos and Board of Nursing chair Dr. Eufemia Octaviano and members Drs. Remedios Hernadez, Letty Kuan and Estelita Galutira, they gave assurances that the "June 2006 passers are real passers."
"The results of the examination have been cleansed of leaked questions. The released June results are clean," they said.
The officials branded as "purely speculative" fears that NCLEX would not be put up in the Philippines because of the leakage controversy.
"The nursing leaders calling for a retake of the exams are offering a sacrifice that has not been made a condition by the NCLEX. More serious steps of cleansing the profession’s ranks may be more convincing," they added.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Palace leans toward a retake
Presidential Management Staff chief Arthur Yap on Thursday informed reporters of the consensus after Dr. Dante Ang, chairman of the Commission on Overseas Filipinos who was directed by the President to look into allegations that questions in the exam had been leaked, submitted his recommendations to President Arroyo Wednesday night.
Yap said Ang proposed a retake of the exam, particularly Tests 3 and 5, to remove the stigma of the leakage.
“We are trying to win back the confidence of the world market, and so Ang proposed that the examinees should retake the entire thing,” Yap said in an interview over Radio Mindanao Network.
In an interview on dzRH radio, Ang said he understood the frustration of the nursing students who passed the test but that the leakage issue must be cleared.
The nursing board of the Professional Regulation Commission had invalidated the tests on “clinical surgery” and “incremental health” and given the go-ahead for the oath-taking of the 17,000 who passed the board, but the Court of Appeals issued a restraining order.
Ang proposed that future nursing board exams be patterned after the National Council Licensure Examination.
Yap said the government wants to protect the integrity of the nursing profession, which has been tainted by the leakage.
He backed Ang’s recommendation, saying it would be hard to distinguish who among the examinees benefited from the leakage, and it was “not realistic” to expect the examinees who benefited from the leak to admit it.
Yap said Malacañang would still look at Ang’s recommendations.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque in a radio interview also supported Ang’s recommendation for a retake of the exam and appealed to hospital institutions to be fair to this year’s batch of nursing graduates.
Duque argued that nursing students’ rating in the licensure examination should not be the hospital management’s sole basis for hiring them. Students should also be assessed on the basis of their academic performance before they took the board exams.
Sen. Rodolfo Biazon has gone a step further and wants the entire exam invalidated.
Biazon, who had opposed a retake, now supports it after receiving reports that questions in Tests 1 and 2 were also leaked.
“But right now because of another report and another witness is saying that it is not only Tests 3 and 5 that had been leaked but also Tests 1 and 2. So with this additional information I would now support a retake,” he said.
Biazon said that the Senate Committee on Civil Service and Government Reorganization he heads will conduct another hearing Wednesday next week to look into the alleged leakage in Tests 1 and 2.
The investigation will also help craft a legislation to deal with cheating in board exams such as regulating the review centers by the Commission on Higher Education, he said.
George Cordero, owner of the INRESS Review Center and the Philippine College of Health Sciences who had been implicated in the leakage, was also president of the Philippine Nurses Association, which chose members of the PRC nursing board.
Cordero has resigned from the PNA.
“We need laws. I am looking at the possibility of proposing a law to regulate and control review centers because the result of the hearing indicates that leakage was made through the test centers Gapuz [Review Center] and INRESS,” Biazon said.
He has summoned officials of the PRC and the National Bureau of Investigation to the hearing. “Let us see if they will invoke Memorandum Circular 108.”
Biazon said Memorandum Circular 108, issued by President Arroyo, was similar to Executive Order 464, which requires consent from Malacañang before any government official can attend congressional hearings.
The circular prescribes the “guidelines on appearances of departments heads and other officials of the executive department before Congress.”