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Cheating in nursing exams
[August 19, 2006]

Cheating in nursing exams

(Philippine Daily Inquirer Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) IT WAS A CLEAR CASE OF CONFLICT OF INTEREST. GEORGE CORDERO WAS THE PRESIDENT OF the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA), which nominates members of the Board of Nursing (BON), the group that prepares the questions for the nursing board examinations, when the exams were administered on June 11 and 12.

Cordero also happens to be the owner of a school for health sciences, including nursing, and a review center in Manila.

Cheating marred the board exams, with certain questions given to scores of examinees beforehand.

It appears that the review center that leaked the questions is Corderos Institute for Review and Special Studies (Inress). Nursing graduates who had enrolled at Inress and the R.A. Gapuz Review Center had been furnished a number of questions and answers for Tests III and V before the exams.

At a Senate hearing on Wednesday, a nursing graduate, who took review classes at Inress, spoke of the questions leaked by the review center.

Another examinee claimed that Cordero had boasted that he did not pay P7 million for nothing and that he brought two BON members to Switzerland and paid for the trip, according to the notes that the BON submitted to the Senate.

Amid these allegations, Cordero resigned as PNA president. He has not responded to the allegations.

The controversy has not been settled. The Professional Regulation Commission has given the go-signal for the oath-taking of some 17,000 who passed the board exams. Acting on a petition by a group of students, nurses and school officials, the Court of Appeals stopped on Friday the oath-taking.

The group calls for the nullification of the results, saying that the leakage would cause irreparable damage to the countrys public health and the prospects of Filipino nurses working abroad.

Confession of an examinee

By Dennis Cesar Alba Bautista

AFTER GRADUATION, I ENROLLED at the Pentagon Review Center on Espana Boulevard in Manila for the comprehensive review course and at the R.A. Gapuz Review Center Manila for the final coaching course in preparation for the June 11-12, 2006 nursing licensure exams.

I also attended review classes at the Inress Review Center on C.M. Recto Avenue in Manila. Inress is considered the in-house review school of the Philippine College of Health Sciences Inc. (PCHS).

Review classes of Inress are held at PCHS. As graduates of PCHS, were encouraged by the school to take our review course only at Inress.

On or about June 6, 2006, I went to my school and learned that Inress would conduct a final coaching on June 8 and June 9 in the morning at SM Manila. So, on that dates, I went to the mall.

Before starting the final coaching, George Cordero, whom I know as the president and owner of PCHS and Inress, and president of the Philippine Nurses Association, welcomed all of us present and made a roll call of the different schools and colleges he had invited.


Cordero said, Last year our passing rate was high. Last sem our rate was average but we had four topnotchers. This time I want a high passing rate again and many on the top 10. If youre on the top 10, I will return your tuition. But the doctors [who took up nursing] are excluded.

Afterwards, Cordero told us that the topics included in the final coaching were only psychiatric nursing and medical-surgical nursing. Psychiatric nursing will be on the first day while medical-surgical nursing will be on the second.

In substance, he told us, These are the items included because these are the difficult parts of the exam. You can handle the remaining three topics because you studied them at the review classes. We have 500 questions in psychiatric nursing, 100 questions will come out in the test.

Then, the final coaching proceeded. The 500 questions were projected on the screen through a Powerpoint presentation. A review instructor read each question and the four possible answer-choices as they flashed on the screen. After reading the possible answers, the instructor would tell us the correct one, and, correspondingly, the correct answer on the screen was highlighted.


At times, when the instructor told us what the correct answer was to a particular question, the crowd reacted loudly, impressing on the instructor that the answer given might be wrong. And so the instructor would just tell us Basta, thats the answer. If you see that keyword, thats what you should answer.

On June 9, Cordero again welcomed all of us and made a roll call of the different schools and colleges he had invited. He told us, For medical-surgical nursing, we only have 300 questions because you discussed the others at your review centers.

Just like the previous day, every time the instructor heard a loud reaction from the crowd when it gave the correct answer, the instructor said, That will be your answer when you see the keyword.

During the two-day final coaching, some of my friends were able to write down the questions and situations and the suggested answers that were flashed on the screen. At first, I took down some notes, but because I got tired writing I decided to just listen. Later, I asked my classmates and friends for photocopies of their notes or I had their notes photocopied. So, after the final coaching, I was able to get a photocopy of the questions and situations and their suggested answers.

On June 11, the first day of the nursing board exams, I was surprised when I took the exams because around 25 items in Test III (medical-surgical) were similar to the questions that were flashed during the final coaching at SM Manila. The situations and the names of persons given in the exam were exactly the same as those flashed on the screen at SM Manila. When I went home, I checked my photocopies and confirmed that the items given at the exam were indeed similar.


On June 12, the second day of the nursing board exams, I was again surprised that in Test V (psychiatric nursing) around 90 items were similar to the ones which were flashed on the screen during the final coaching at the SM Manila cinema.

The situation and the names of persons given in the exam were exactly the same as the questions flashed on the screen during our final coaching. When I went home, I again checked my photocopies and confirmed that the items given at the exam were indeed similar.

While waiting for the results of the board exams, I learned from the news that there was a leakage in the board exams. So I texted some of my classmates, fearing that we might be asked by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) to retake the board exams.

The following day, I met a friend of mine and we talked about the news and the leakage during the board exams and the possibility that the these would be nullified. My friend suggested that we ask Cordero about it so that we can have a reliable source. My friend gave me the number of Cordero and we texted him, asking about the news and the possibility of retaking the exam.

I was surprised that he called back my number. I received his call. He angrily said, Who is this? I was surprised and caught off-guard by his call. I said I am Cesar Alba of Bataan Group (my knowledge is that Bataan Group refers to the schools in Bataan, which have the Inress Review Center as their in-house review school).

Cordero said, I didnt see it. What did it say? So, I told him that the news said there was a possibility of the board exams being nullified and of the examinees retaking them. He replied, I dont know anything about that. So I said, Sir, if you want, I can forward to you other messages that I received. He said, Sige, please.

After my first talk with Cordero over the phone, I continued to text him and forwarded to him messages I had received about the issue. For several days after our first conversation, he would call me after he received my text messages. I was surprised that he would call me, but it gave me the impression that he trusted me.


On several occasions that Cordero called me, he said the following: Hindi pwedeng mangyari ang retake kasi malaking gastos yun; I will schedule a dinner with members of the PRC and Board of Nursing; I will meet with owners of review centers. Dont they want the NCLEX [National Council Licensure Examination] to be held here next year?

I said to him, Sir, be careful, you might be blackmailed. Cordero said, No, I have a lawyer. Gapuz is pointing at me because a PCHS student gave him the materials. The evidence that the PRC holds is the photocopy of the handwritten materials from my student. Walang kwentang bata yan. Do you know who the materials are really for? For my child [son].

I replied, Oo nga po, sir. Salamat po at hindi niyo ipinagdamot sa amin, I then asked him, Sir, bakit kaya niya kailangan ibigay yun? Cordero said, Eh para ano pa, eh di sa pera. Balita ko nga masama ang loob sa akin ng member ng BON na nagbigay, eh. Pag nagkaipitan naman, hindi ko sasabihin na siya. Sasabihin ko lang na may nagbigay sa akin, hindi ko kilala tapos binigyan ko kunwari ng P20,000.

When I went to PCHS, I learned from our school registrar that the student who was mentioned by Cordero as the one who gave the photocopy to [Ray] Gapuz, [owner of a network of review centers] was Pamela Ortega, a second-courser student.

(Excerpts of the affidavit read by Bautista on Wednesday at the Senate hearing on the nursing exams leakage. He is a BS Nursing graduate of the Philippine College of Health Sciences Inc.)

Board member admits leaked notes were hers

IN A DESIRE TO LOOK IN-to the alleged leakage, members of the Board of Nursing tried to get related materials. Thus, Dr. [Letty] Kuan called Ray Gapuz if he had any material on the alleged leakage because it was his review center that was put in the limelight.

On the morning of June 17, at 8 a.m., Gapuz came to the place of Kuan on Singalong Street in Manila, bringing along with him 18 pages of handwritten notes. Chair [Eufemia] Octaviano, who lived nearby, joined Kuan in the dorm and she received the 18 pages of handwritten notes from Gapuz.

It was PRC outreach day. The Board members were together on the ground floor when this set of handwritten notes was shared. [Anesia] Dionisio was shown the notes and immediately she said Ay, akin itong situation na ito, (referring to the situation of Lilia ) As there were nurses from Zones 1, 2 and 4 who were helping in the outreach project, and who heard her, we told her to be discreet.

At about 6 p.m., Gapuz called up Kuan, saying that he was coming over with an examinee who had typewritten notes of the alleged leaked items. Thus, at that time, Octaviano came and together with Kuan, received the typewritten notes and talked to the female examinee. The paper contained 495 situations with choices and answers.


The examinee, Pamela Ortega, voluntarily came out in the open in the midst of this leakage news because her conscience bothered her and she wanted to tell the truth. She said she was willing to testify even on TV.

Ortega finished her degree in medical technology from the University of Santo Tomas. She took up a second course, Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the Philippine College of Health Sciences Inc. (PCHS). When queried why she chose PCHS, she said it had a flexible schedule.

She said there was no clinical experience requirement. Being a PCHS graduate, she was enrolled for the review classes at the Inress Review Center. She paid P50,000. Because she was not satisfied with the review classes, she enrolled at the R.A. Gapuz Review Center.

According to Pamela, on the evening of June 9, George Cordero asked PCHS graduates to go to the SM Mall hall for an enhancement review classes. She attended the classes. Cordero had a stapled set of papers and told the graduates to study very well the questions because 100 questions from that set will surely come out in the board exams.

When she took Test V on June 12, all the situations, choices and questions were exactly what were in the notes. It was so easy for them and the test took them only 30 minutes, while others sweated it out. She felt bad about this.

Payment of P7 million

On the night of June 9, Cordero told them [the graduates] that he did not pay P7 million for nothing, and that he brought two BON members to Switzerland and paid for the trip.

He assured the second coursers that they need not undergo interviews because the BON would readily sign their application forms, as they were his friends.

Two reviewers of Cordero flashed the situations, questions and answers on the screen that night. They had time to copy, some by long hand. Others brought laptops and still others portable typewriters. Thus, she had a copy of the typewritten notes, which other students and review centers also had from that enhancement classes and which she submitted to Octaviano and Kuan on the evening of June 17.

Octaviano and Kuan thanked Pamela for her good act and for the information.

(Notes by Eufemia F. Octaviano and Letty G. Kuan of Pamela Ortegas testimony that was presented at the Senate hearing. Octaviano is the chair and Kuan a member of the Board of Nursing.)

Copyright 2006 Philippine Daily Inquirer. Source : Financial Times Information Limited (Trademark)

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