NBI files charges vs 2 Board of Nursing members for exam leakage

Two former Board of Nursing (BON) examiners accused of involvement in the alleged leakage in last June’s nursing licensure examinations were charged on Thursday by the National Bureau of Investigation before the Office of the Ombudsman with violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the law modernizing the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).

Overall Deputy Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro, chairman of the five-member investigating panel formed by Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, said they will first evaluate the documents from the NBI to determine whether to conduct another investigation, or proceed with the preliminary investigation of Anesia Dionisio and Virginia Madeja.

Based on the NBI’s report to the Office of the Ombudsman, the two former BON members were recommended for prosecution before the Sandiganbayan.

Regional Director Elfren Meneses Jr., NBI Anti-Fraud and Computer Crimes Division chief, said Dionisio and Madeja were charged as principals.

"So if they are found guilty of the crime, they might have to suffer between 6-12 years imprisonment," he said.

The two were charged before the Office of the Ombudsman because they were government employees when the alleged crime was committed, he added.

The NBI said a source of the alleged leakage was Dionisio’s manuscript, which bore handwritten corrections.

It contained 495 questions that came out in the nursing licensure examinations and answers similar to actual ones given to the PRC, the NBI added.

The NBI said it received information that Dionisio never relegated the copy of the original manuscript, and that during its investigation she allegedly gave alibis of its loss but was not able to provide any proof.

Dionisio prepared the questions for Test III and V in the nursing licensure examinations, the NBI added.

In her defense, Madeja told the NBI that the questionnaires might have been leaked to the public when she went to a computer shop to photocopy questions for the examinations.

When she noticed someone was watching her, she decided to leave the place, she added.

She was a new BoN member and was not aware that many unscrupulous people were interested in obtaining an advance copy of the test questions, Madeja said.

However, the NBI said that even if Madeja has only been with the BoN for 45 days, it was not a guarantee of her innocence.

"The claim of Madeja appears to be untenable," the NBI said in a 10-page transmittal to the Office of the Ombudsman.

"Being a member of the Board and one who maintains a very secure office, Madeja could have easily secured the reproduction of documents thereat to avoid the prying eyes of the public.

"Having very valuable materials in her custody, she should have realized early on the risks that it would entail if she would roam around the streets of Metro Manila, more so have them photocopied in an ordinary computer shop."

About 42,000 examinees took the nursing board examinations last June 11 and 12.

The examinees in Baguio City who finished the examinations early reportedly wore jackets bearing the logo "RA Gapuz."

Several people reportedly protested before the PRC regional office in Baguio and complained that there was a leakage in the materials.

Gutierrez named Director Susan Guillermo vice-chairwoman of the investigating panel, and Director Eulogio Cecilio, and lawyers Mary Antonette Yalao and Silverio Manuel Jr. as members.

Meanwhile, PRC officials are not inclined to attend the Senate hearings on the alleged leakage in the nursing licensure examinations despite the threat of being declared in contempt of the Senate.

Commissioner Renato Valdecantos said they could not appear in the hearings because of President Arroyo’s Memorandum Order No. 108.

"We have always been willing to appear there ever since the first invitation," he said. "But since the PRC is under the Office of the President, we are bound by the memorandum issued by the President."

Valdecantos said as prescribed in the memorandum, they requested the Senate to provide them in advance a list of questions that would be asked of them during the hearings.

They also asked to be given the information "as to the possible needed statute which prompted the inquiry" in aid of legislation, he added.

Until now, they have not received such information, Valdecantos said.

Last Thursday, Sen. Rodolfo Biazon issued a one-page order directing the PRC officials to explain why they failed to attend the hearings. — Evelyn Macairan, Mike Frialde, Sheila Crisostomo

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