Baguio Examinees Fear
‘Whitewash’ on Nursing Board Scam
The attempt to cover up the truth about
the leakage on the June nursing board exam, and the “inaction” by the
Professional Regulatory Board (PRC) are meant to prevent the issue from
tarnishing the image of the Philippines. The alleged reason: a top
official of the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) is allegedly lobbying
for the country to become a testing center for the U.S. National Council
Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), an examination for
nurses who seek employment in the U.S.
BY ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
Posted by Bulatlat
BAGUIO CITY (246 kms
north of Manila) – The attempt to cover up the truth about the leakage on
the June nursing board exam, and the “inaction” by the Professional
Regulatory Board (PRC) are meant to prevent the issue from tarnishing the
image of the Philippines. The alleged reason: a top official of the
Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) is allegedly lobbying for the country
to become a testing center for the U.S. National Council Licensure
Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), an examination for nurses
who seek employment in the U.S.
Despite the move to
suppress the complaint, however, professional health workers, examinees of
the latest board exam, nursing students and their supporters held a rally
here on July 11, braving rains down Session Road. In a program at the
People’s Park here after the rally, the speakers reiterated their main
call for the PRC to establish an independent fact-finding body to
investigate the scam and to suspend members of the Board of Nursing (BON)who
are suspected of being involved in the alleged leakage while the probe is
The ralliers said in
a statement that they “express disappointment with the PRC for its failure
to act on the complaint expeditiously,” as they also expressed fear that
the PRC is doing a “whitewash.”
The ralliers said
that PNA national president George Cordero told the heads of the PNA-Cordillera
and the Cordillera Association of Deans of Philippine Colleges of Nursing
(ADPCN) to slow down in their expose on the leakage scam as it will affect
the Philippines’ chances of becoming an NCLEX-RN testing center.
statement revealed that on June 17, Cordero called PNA-Cordillera governor
Ruth Thelma Tingda “to suppress the complaint.”
They added that on
June 19, Cordero also called Dr. Mary Grace Lacanaria, urging the latter
“to suppress the complaint” and to resort to “damage control” instead of
carrying on with it.” Cordero, they said in the statement, warned that the
issue of the board examination leakage may – and certainly will – damage
the PNA’s lobbying to make the country an NCLEX-RN testing center.
Lacanaria is the dean
of the College of Nursing
at St. Louis University (SLU) and the president of the ADPCN. Cordero
allegedly offered her a position in his nursing school, but she turned it
Lacanaria and Tingda
are among those who joined as intervenors in the complaint against the
leakage that was filed before the PRC.
Move to whitewash
Standing on their
grounds against the leakage, 92 board examinees in this city filed their
complaint at the PRC-CAR office on June 21. They claimed that leakage on
Sets III and V of their examinations, numbering “more or less 50
questions” benefited examinees/reviewees from the Gapuz review center but
119 leaked questions benefited another review school.
On June 28, 425
professional nurses joined the complainants through an intervention they
filed at the PRC national office.
It was learned that
the common calls of the complainants and intervenors are the immediate
convening of an independent fact finding committee (IFFC) to investigate
the leakage; to file the necessary administrative and criminal charges
against those who are responsible; and put on preventive suspension all
members of the Board of Nursing (BON) while the investigation is going on.
The intervenors and
their counsels found out, when they filed their intervention on June 28,
that the PRC national legal and records divisions have no records on the
complaint filed on June 21.
They also found out
that the PRC national and its regional office issued contradicting
statements as to the creation of the committee. They claimed that lawyer
Senando Esteban of PRC-CAR told them on June 30 that the committee would
be created, to be headed by lawyer Renato Valdecantos, a PRC Commissioner.
In their talk with
Valdecantos on July 3, he allegedly admitted to them that he is the head
of the committee with all members from the PRC; and that there is an
on-going investigation with the Board of Nursing not related to the
leakage. He also retracted his earlier statement to them that there was a
committee created to investigate the leakage, as the complaint is still
with the Legal Division.
statements from PRC officials “give enough reason for them to claim that
the PRC’s actions are tainted with intentions to railroad and whitewash
the complaint,” the intervenors and complainants said in their July 11
They are pushing for
an independent committee. The members of the committee should not be from
the PRC, as they allegedly showed their bias. Nordis learned from
the lawyers of the complainants/intervenors that the committee was already
created composed by members coming from the PRC.
of the committee should be reputable members of the ADPCN, a nurse,
representative of health non-government organization, and from the
National Bureau of Investigation, PRC and Commission on Higher Education,
said Cheryll Daytec-Yangot, a counsel of the complainants/intervenors in
Lacanaria and Tingda,
in an earlier press conference, said that the Board of Nursing prepares
the questions for, and administers the nursing licensure examination.
The Board, they said,
has “all the privileges related to the exam,” including access to the
questionnaires. And two of its members were allegedly involved in the
The ralliers alleged
that before the nursing board exams were given on June 11 to 12, two
members of the Board and Cordero traveled to Switzerland.
Reliable sources said
that the travel was irregular under the circumstances. Not only because
the examinations were then approaching but also because Cordero operates a
nursing school and a review center, aside from the fact that one of his
children was set to take the board examinations.
Twenty-two deans and
examinees met with Cordero on June 10. In that meeting, Cordero allegedly
leaked board examination questions, the complainants said in their
While they call for
the suspension of the Board to prevent it from influencing the
investigation, they wonder why Valdecantos conducts back-door talks with
the body – two of whose members are alleged to have been involved in the
“Is there a
conspiracy between these offices?” asked one examinee in the July 11
In an earlier update
from the PRC, insiders said they will be filing administrative cases
against the two Board members whom they declined to name for now.
parties are also pushing for a congressional inquiry – particularly a
Senate investigation – in aid of legislation.
counsel for the complainants and intervenors, said the legislative inquiry
will serve as a venue not only to unmask the extent of the scam but also
to come up with appropriate legislation to determine which agency should
have jurisdiction over scams like the alleged leakage.
He explained that
there is a gray area as to what office has jurisdiction over the scam. He
clarified that the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) has jurisdiction
over nursing students and the PRC over professional nurses. “How about in
between these stages?” he asked. This could be addressed by the inquiry to
come-up with appropriate legislation, he said.
He believes however,
that those linked to the scam would do everything to suppress the
revelation of the truth.
tried to interview Cordero to get his side on the issue, but he could not
be reached. In an interview over ABS-CBN, however, he denied the
allegations against him. Northern Dispatch / Posted by Bulatlat
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