Nursing leak nationwide
5 new witnesses come forward
By Juliet Labog-Javellana, Christine Avendaño
Last updated 06:53am (Mla time) 10/07/2006
Published on page A1 of the October 7, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
IT NOW appears that the cheating in the June nursing licensure examination (NLE) was not confined to Luzon but was nationwide in scope, and involved not just two but four subjects of the five-part exam.
Five nursing graduates from Baguio City who took the board exam have come forward to claim that questions in Tests I and II—covering fundamentals of nursing practice and maternal and child health nursing, respectively—had been leaked to them.
The ongoing investigations are focused on the leak of questions for Tests III and V.
The five nursing graduates have submitted their affidavits to the National Bureau of Investigation.
This information was disclosed to the Inquirer by Rene Luis Tadle, president of the Faculty Association of the College of Nursing of the University of Sto. Tomas.
“We might actually call for a retake of all the tests. The retake should be for all [examinees], not only those from Luzon but also those from the Visayas and Mindanao,” Tadle said in a phone interview.
He later issued a statement saying that the cheating in the June 11-12 nursing exam was widespread and not confined to Luzon.
Tadle called on President Macapagal-Arroyo to order a retake of the entire exam and by all 40,000 examinees.
“On the basis of the above [information], we call on the President to act firmly and without vacillation to order a retake of Tests III and Test V, and, if necessary, on the basis of this new evidence, order a retake of all the five tests,” he said.
Tadle also appealed to Ms Arroyo “not to make this a political issue.”
He said: “The NLE was compromised as a result of the leakage; do not compromise it further by listening to influence peddlers who advance a no-retake or selective retake just to gain political votes. Retake for all is the only and imperative way to restore the integrity and credibility of the [NLE] as well as all professional licensure examinations in this country.
“We also call for the resignation of all the commissioners of the Professional Regulation Commission who are responsible for this mess and who, up to this time, cling like leeches to their position.”
5 witnesses secured
Tadle said one of their professors and an NBI agent traveled to Baguio three days ago after getting wind of the information on the leak of questions in Tests I and II.
He said that the five new witnesses had been “secured,” and that their affidavits were submitted last night to the NBI in Manila.
Tadle quoted the five graduates as saying that they got 50 questions for each of the two tests. He said some leaked questions also appeared in the other tests.
“Equally important is the fact that the source of the leaked questions was two review centers that so far have not figured prominently in this NLE leakage controversy, but nevertheless have branches or conducted in-house reviews in the Visayas and Mindanao,” he said.
He declined to name the review centers concerned.
Tadle said the leak was not confined to Luzon because the “well-known review center” involved in it had branches nationwide.
“The well-known review center involved in the controversy has different branches or subsidiaries in different parts of the country,” he said.
He said that based on an advertisement that appeared in the Inquirer on July 22, the Gapuz Review Center had produced 33 of the 70 examinees who landed in the Top 10.
Tadle also said that Gapuz provided in-house review to the Riverside College of Nursing in Bacolod City, which, he noted landed four of its students in the Top 10.
He said Eufemia Octaviano, the chair of the Board of Nursing that prepared the questions, used to be the dean of Riverside, which got a 48-percent passing rate in the NLE.
Tadle said the leak could be nationwide because Gapuz and other review centers had centers all over the country.
Based on the ads, Gapuz has 16 centers, its subsidiary Millennium has 15, Pentagon has two, and St. Louis has 10, he said.
Malacañang, which has been criticized for its flip-flop stance on the controversy, has ordered the NBI to immediately wrap up its inquiry preparatory to a final decision by the President on the issue of the retake.
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita yesterday said Ms Arroyo and her Cabinet would make the final decision after a special meeting on Tuesday.
He said he expected an announcement to be made on Tuesday or Wednesday regarding the fate of a draft executive order by Labor Secretary Arturo Brion that recommended a retake.
“There is a Cabinet meeting just on this issue on Tuesday, so we told the Department of Justice to tell the NBI to finish its report by Monday. The NBI will be asked to give a report on the result of its investigation on the leakage [on Tuesday],” Ermita told reporters.
The NBI was scheduled to submit its report on or before Oct. 15.
On Thursday, Ms Arroyo met with Ermita, Brion, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez and PRC Chair Leonor-Tripon Rosero.
“We took a look at the problem again so we can come up with a final solution,” Ermita said of the meeting at the Palace.
Asked about Brion’s statement on Thursday saying Ms Arroyo had sufficient powers to order a retake without waiting for the ruling of the Court of Appeals on a pending petition, Ermita quoted the labor secretary as saying that his remarks “may have been taken out of context.”
“I told him to give a clarificatory statement. That’s what I advised him,” Ermita said.
But Ermita’s disclosure that Malacañang intended to announce by next week its final decision on the controversy appeared to indicate that officials were not anymore waiting for the CA ruling.
The appellate court had earlier imposed a temporary restraining order on the mass oath-taking of the exam passers.
Gonzalez told the Inquirer by phone that the Palace was hoping the CA would issue its ruling by next week as well.
He said he did not know whether a consensus was reached on whether to wait for the court ruling or not because he had left the meeting.
But he said he had argued that the Palace should await the ruling before coming out with an executive order.