2 charged for nursing leak

- Sandy Araneta -

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez ordered the filing of corruption charges against two examiners of the Board of Nursing for leaking questions in the June 2006 nursing examination.

The order came after Gutierrez denied the motion for reconsideration filed by respondents Virginia Diolola-Madeja and Anesia Buenafe-Dionisio, the examiners in Medical Surgery Nursing and Psychiatric Nursing, respectively.

Madeja and Dionisio were the first two people to be charged in connection with the scandal, which led to a US commission issuing a temporary ban on the 17,000 nurses who had passed last year’s tests and cast a shadow over the country’s labor export. 

In a 12-page order, Gutierrez denied Madeja’s and Dionisio’s motion, noting that under the law, circumstantial evidence is sufficient, countering Madeja’s motion that the evidence against them was weak.

An inquiry found that 56 elements from a medical surgery section leaked to students in the north were traced back to Madeja, Gutierrez said in a statement.

On the other hand, handwritten and printed notes traced to Dionisio found their way to nursing graduates at the same review center and another one in Manila.

Gutierrez said the leaks enabled students enrolled in those review centers to sail through the test sections.

The Ombudsman had earlier formed a panel to investigate the June 2006 nursing licensure examination leakage.

Aside from Madeja and Dionisio, a number of unidentified people were also being investigated by the panel for possible collusion.

The panel, headed by Overall Deputy Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro, had earlier recommended the filing of charges against Madeja and Dionisio before the Sandiganbayan for violation of Republic Act 8981 (An Act Modernizing the Professional Regulation Commission) and RA 3019 (The Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act).

The case against Madeja and Dionisio stemmed from a complaint filed before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).

A few days after the June 11 and 12 nursing licensure examinations in 2006, several nursing personalities complained about an alleged leakage incident in Baguio City after certain students from the RA Gapuz Review Center, identified through their jackets, finished the examination way ahead of the others.

This resulted in the filing of a formal complaint before the PRC-Head Office, Manila.

Some 42,000 students sat in the nursing examination last year but only 17,000 passed. President Arroyo has since ordered all 17,000 to re-take the exams, sparking an uproar from nurses who denied involvement in any wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, the US-based Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) is sending a team to the country to observe the scheduled June 10 and 11 licensure examination.
Labor Secretary Arturo Brion said he has already granted the request of the CGFNS to send representatives to observe the conduct of the licensure examination.

Brion said of the seven observers, two would be assigned in Metro Manila and the rest in other parts of the country,

“One observer will also look at what happens from the printing of the test questions to the delivery for the exams,” he said.

More than 77,800 nursing graduates, including those who passed the leakage-tainted licensure examination last year, will be taking the test next week. – with Mayen Jaymalin, AFP

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