17,000 nursing graduates who recently took the June 2006 Nursing Licensure Examinations must now
be feeling greatly relieved. They have now been allowed to take their professional oath as registered nurses. But with the
Court of Appeals’ decision to allow them to take their oath ending the controversy, is everything really done with?
Several months after the controversy, the issue is still hot and causes unreasonable discontent and debate.
While passers, flunkers and the political surfers feast on the issue, the true victims of this shameful hullabaloo are the
Filipino people and the Nursing profession.
The passers have their very own reason for resisting another re-take of the exam as the flunkers and the
political hitchhikers have their own respective agendas and reason. Whatever the reasons are is beyond this author’s
concern. There will always be multiple sides to the story and not two, as commonly perceived.
The matter of the nursing licensure examination (NLE) leakage tells us a lot about the various aspects relating
to it. Clearly if we try to dissect the matter from the beginning, layers upon layers of unwanted cover-ups, interests and
conflicts can be seen. Taking for example the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) who administers the exam. Barely one-week
after conducting the nationwide nursing examinations, rumors spread like wild-fire that the PRC’s supposedly "streamlined"
and leak-proof system has leaked. PRC dismissed the issue as irrelevant and unfounded. To cover its backside, it asked the
Board of Nursing to conduct an initial investigation of the matter to which the same board "concluded that there was no apparent
leakage". A month later, the PRC published the results of the examinations which further fanned the already hot matter and
another month thereafter, we now know that the leakage-notes came from two of the Board of Nursing members. This reminds me
of the classic Mr. Bean (aka Rowan Atkinson) – purely stupid yet with class and style. At this stage, the matter already
got further out-of-hand and uncontrollable.
From hereon, the matter gets messier and messier. The scandal is still fairly confined to the board of nursing,
the PRC and the examinees. However through the PRC, the Board of Nursing’s premature release of the results of the examinations
while investigations are still going-on is questionable. Why? Politics perhaps. This unwarranted move by the board is a classic
way to let the issue die a natural death. But obviously, things did not go on as expected. The way things were dealt with
was uncoordinated, without thought and without consideration. Generally, the whole reaction to the scandal is sick - from
the PRC to the investigating body and everything else in between. However, there is still light at the end of the tunnel.
The battle waged by most prestigious hospitals, nursing universities and other nurse individuals to ensure
that the profession’s credibility and integrity is maintained is something positive to look at. Their step in the right
direction is noteworthy and commendable. While their battle is but a part of a bigger struggle to help restore credibility,
decency and integrity of the nursing profession and the Filipino people, the political hitch-hikers, passers and flunkers
were busy fighting a private war.
The recent conciliatory discussion held between various sectors involved in the profession is another positive
move that we can all learn from. Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Arturo Brion’s suggested forward move
is well-meaning and appropriate. Resolving the issues this way is far better than waging popularity contests between parties.
After these vital points have been taken care of, then other equally important matters can then be addressed more efficiently
Resolving the conflicts through the conciliatory talks has proven its pound of worth. However, the decaying
logic inside the system is unable to hold its anchor with the irregularities discovered within the PRC test computations.
It seems like the longer the system is ‘tested’, the more unlawful activity will be discovered.
That’s life. Political and individual interests prevail over the common good. Then again, now that
the disease has surfaced, it’s about time that the powers-that-be act upon this corrosive illness that has plagued the
system for some time. In the words of Mr. Apolonio Ramos (of Marikina City), the following should have been initially done
as a means of cleansing the system:
1. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) should have been tasked to investigate the case and question
the examiners, review centers and examinees. Meantime, the results should have been withheld, pending the results of the investigation.
2. After receiving the NBI findings, the justice secretary should have transmitted them to the President
and made the proper recommendations.
3. Those found to have committed acts inimical to the fair conduct of the examinations should have been promptly
charged in court.
4. If examiners were found to have been involved in the leakage, they should have been immediately removed
from office (to prevent their interfering with the investigation). Administrative and criminal cases should have been filed
5. All the review centers involved in the scandal should have been closed, and proper charges should have
been filed against their erring officials.
6. The nursing licensure examinations should have been deemed a failure and the results nullified, nationwide.
A new set of examiners should have been appointed and another licensure examination should have been scheduled, as early as
October 2006, with the examinees (who took the questionable examinations) exempt from paying all the fees required.
7. Examinees who took advantage of the leaked questions should have been permanently barred from taking any
nursing licensure examination thereafter.
By the way, in view of all these disgrace and humiliation, incumbent PRC Chief Leonor Tripon-Rosero should offer her voluntary
resignation as a graceful means of exiting. Otherwise, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo should give her the final letter
should the interest of the country, the Nursing profession, and all other professions under PRC be in her main agenda and
priority. The country is sick and the Filipino people’s collective attitude, effort and sacrifices will be the cure.