Foreign employers wary after RP nurse test leak

(ABS-CBN) At least two top destination for Filipino nurses abroad have raised concern over the Nursing Licensure Examination leakage in the Philippines, ABS-CBN’s Bandila reported Wednesday.

“Our labor attaché to Belgium was in touch with me last night and asked about what is happening because Brussels was asking,” said Labor Secretary Arturo Brion.

“When you speak of Brussels, you speak of the [European Union]. A representative of the Japanese embassy also approached us,” he added.

r2984559316.jpgThe labor chief said that although Belgian and Japanese authorities have no say in the ongoing debate on whether to conduct a retake of the examination or not, they are closely monitoring the Philippine government’s decision on the matter.

“Foreign governments will never intervene in our affairs and we will not allow them to intervene but they have the right to ask. They want to know what is happening,” said Brion.

Thousands of Filipino nurses work overseas, most notably in the United States and Europe.

In the United Kingdom, an EU-member country, Philippine government figures show that 80 percent of about 180,000 Filipino workers there are in the health sector.

In the US, thousands of Filipino nurses have found employment at hospitals after its health sector opened up opportunities for foreign workers.

Recently, the Philippine and Japanese governments signed an agreement allowing Filipino nurses and caregivers to work in Japan.

The Philippine Nurses Association said that the country has 368,589 licensed nurses. An average of 13,000 new nurses, meanwhile, are produced every year.

Experts, however, said that with the rate of Filipino nurses going abroad to seek greener pastures, it would not be long before the country’s health care sector dries up.

In the US, for example, Filipino nurses are given chances of obtaining residency visas and later on, citizenship. They also have the chance of bringing their family to the US.

captmla10510020632philippines_nurses_mla105.jpgDecision on exam retake

Brion, meanwhile, is set to issue his final decision on the nursing examination within the week after the National Bureau of Investigation the results of its probe on the leakage.

“What we are also after here is not just the integrity of our system but the welfare of our examinees as well. We need to decide at the soonest so that these people (examinees) can already move on,” he said.

On Wednesday NBI Director Nestor Mantaring said the agency will file criminal charges against 17 people allegedly involved in the leakage. He did not name the accused.

The agency had delayed the release of its final report after receiving the sworn statements from nursing board takers linking a Manila-based review center to the leakage.

Some 42,000 nursing graduates took the NLE examination last June. A total of 17,821 examinees passed the exam.

Photo caption: Nursing examinees shout slogans during a rally in Manila October 10, 2006. They opposed the proposal for a retake of the 2006 nursing licensure examination after a leak in the examination was reported. REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo (PHILIPPINES)

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