A former member of the Nursing board of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) is facing six years behind bars after the Sandiganbayan found that she hired a typist to replicate the nursing exam questions despite being unauthorized to do so.
In spite of this conviction, the real culprit as to who leaked the exam questions to the review centers was not identified in the 70-page decision of the anti-graft court.
To recall, the PRC was drenched in hot water in 2007 after reports that Test 3 (Medical Surgical Nursing) and in Test 5 (Psychiatric Nursing) of the June 2006 NLE was reportedly leaked to students from RA Gapuz Review Center in Baguio City and Institute for Review and Special Studies in Manila.
The Sandiganbayan Fourth Division sentenced Anesia Dionisio, former member of the Board of Nursing, to a six-year jail term after the court ruled that her hiring of Evelyn Asinas to type the was illegal, enough for her to land in jail.
Dionisio faced violation of the PRC Modernization Act of 2000 and Section 3(k) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. She was only convicted with the latter charge.
Section 3(k) of the anti-graft law prevents a public official from divulging valuable information of a confidential character which he acquires by his office before its authorized release date.
During the trial, Mila Llanes, former associate dean of the College of Nursing of the University of Santo Tomas, told prosecutors about the presence of a “blue spiral test questionnaire” which contained 495 questions that appeared similar to the questions Dionisio asked Asinas to type.
However, the “blue spiral test questionnaire” was never presented before the court, resulting in Dionisio’s acquittal in the first criminal lawsuit.
Llanes said that she got hold of the blue spiral questionnaire after a student her a copy of the leaked questions. The document was used during the fact-finding and investigation of the PRC, but it was not presented before the court.
“Without this spiral test questions manuscript being produced in evidence, and without even any explanation from the prosecution as to why it was not submitted in evidence, the guilt of the accused for offense charged cannot be proved beyond reasonable doubt,” the ruling read.
Because of this, Dionisio was acquitted with her first case. Still, the court did not let pass the fact that Dionisio tapped Asinas to type for her the test questions.
Asinas said in open court that while she was typing the questions, the former PRC official was always by her side with her caregiver since Dionisio had suffered meningitis and was in comatose for four days.
In her defense, she said that she trusted Asinas to type the test questions for her even if there was an instance when Asinas had it typed at home without Dionisio’s supervision.
Dionisio added that she did not tell that those questions were actual board exam questions, but Asinas admitted that she figured those out.
When Asinas was able to finalize and save the questions to a diskette, she informed Dionisio that she placed it inside her boss’ bag, together with the manuscript of questions and the computerized version.
After a two-week trip from Switzerland, Dionisio found out that the diskette was not in her bag, contrary to Asinas’ claims. The secretary insisted she stashed it inside her boss’ bag.
Failing to find the missing diskette, Dionisio went to Asinas “and was surprised when Asinas suddenly pulled out the diskette out of her [Asinas] drawer, saying: ‘Ma’am, sorry. Nandito pala ang diskette.’”
Dionisio said that she went to PRC after, had the test questions encoded to the staff and surrendered the diskette to the databank.
In ruling on the matter, the court did not go nitty-gritty as to who leaked the questions but only if Dionisio was culpable for hiring Asinas.
The Sandiganbayan ruled that Dionisio should have not let Asinas type for her the test questions, or at the very least, asked for a written permission from former PRC Chairperson Leonor Tripon-Rosero.
“It is significant to note that there was no evidence presented to show, or even a feeble claim made on the part of the accused, that Dionisio sought the approval of [Rosero],” the ruling stated.
The magistrates added that even if most of the Board of Nursing knew that Dionisio is computer illiterate and had test questions typed for her, this did not suffice “proper authority.”
“Asinas is not authorized to acquire knowledge about the contents of the test questions manuscript of the accused, but she did because Dionisio voluntarily and intelligently allowed her,” the court ruled.
It ordered Dionisio a maximum of six years and six months behind bars and perpetual disqualification from public office.
Associate Justice Gregory Ong penned the ruling, with Associate Justices Jose Hernandez and Maria Cristina Cornejo concurring. JOHN CONSTANTINE G. CORDON