Monday, October 09, 2006


It is strange, almost bizarre how an entire nation could react to cheating in last June’s National Nursing Exam. Strange because cheating after the “Hello Garci” scandal has become trivial as no less than a president in rapid succession says “I am sorry” and then behaves as if she neither said sorry nor that electoral fraud or cheating ever took place. Bizarre, because appeals for a national retake are coming from different quarters of the same government whose functionaries benefited from electoral fraud. Outside of government both academe and students are divided between those who are pushing for a National retake and those who are crying unfair because they claim to be clean or untainted by the cheating. Commission on Overseas Filipinos Dante Ang has also urged the President to order a retake.

Senator Angara is pushing for a Nationwide retake provided that government shoulders the expenses of students coming from the provinces. Senator Gordon however, thinks that only the guilty should be penalized so that the retake should only take place where there is proof of cheating. Senator Lacson makes an interesting point as he argues for a nation-wide retake with the following caution, “that the basic legal tenet of the presumption of innocence should take the higher plane in the scheme of things.” (cf. Philippine Daily Inquirer, “ Nursing board reviewer, “Leak was everywhere,” p. A1, Octover 8, 2006)

And now you have the same president apparently flip-flopping over the decision for a retake or no-retake. This flip-flopping is indicative and symptomatic of something deeper. How could she then push for a retake of an exam tainted by cheating when she and her government suffer from the same scourge. Cleaning dirt with a dirtier rag does not work. Hypocrisy and moral turpitude is the leitmotif of the entire scandal. So we want to clean one part of society while the rest of that society remains mired in the same dirt?

Recently a Marikina court cleared Mr. Lucio Tan of the P 25 Billion tax evation case that has haunted him for years. Similarly, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez also clears Comelec Officials and Mega Pacific of the illegal and fraudulent P1.3 Billion computer deal. Strange and bizarre indeed are the events in this calamity and poverty stricken land. Exam leakage released by review centers to all too willing young cheats is but a pale reflection of what goes on in higher echelons of society. Even the church has a difficult time lifting its head proud above the muck and din after news got around of padded envelopes being distributed during a close door meeting.

Yes, a retake whether national or local is what we need, but let it not only be among the 2006 nursing exam students. I propose a national retake at all levels and sectors of society. And let no one be spared.

Let everyone answer honestly and urgently the following questions with either Y for Yes or N for No:

Have I ever cheated before in anyway, big or small?
If I cheated, did I ever do anything to correct or undo the damage?
Have I stopped cheating once and for all?
Do I still cheat and do not intend to stop unless of course caught?
Do I still listen to my conscience?
Or is my conscience dead?
You have six minutes to answer each question. Time is up. Pass your papers.

Fr. Roberto P. Reyes
October 9, 2006


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