Rep. Teddy Casiño (Bayan Muna Party-list)
Fourteenth Congress, House of Representatives (First Regular Session)
December 11, 2007
I stand on a question of personal and collective privilege on the plight more than 4,000 civil engineering graduates who have been rendered an extreme injustice by the Professional Regulatory Commission.
Mr. Speaker, on November 17 and 18, 2007, four thousand seven hundred eighty two (4,782) graduates of Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering took the Civil Engineering Licensure Examination administered by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), in eight testing centers in the cities of Manila, Baguio, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Legaspi and Tacloban.
The examination came and went quietly without any hitch until a mysterious, questionable and highly illogical decision by the PRC, upon recommendation of the Board of Civil Engineering, came out on November 23, 2007.
Unknown to all the examinees, the PRC promulgated Resolution No. 07-12 recommending the nullification of the examination results in two subjects: Hydraulics and Geotechnical Engineering, and Structural Engineering and Construction. They also required ALL the examinees to retake the same subjects on January 12, 2007.
Mr. Speaker, dear colleagues, this is a controversy where the PRC, again, is at the center and the head of the problem.
Information my office has gathered reveal that the PRC approved the said recommendation of the Board of Civil Engineering without conducting a thorough and transparent investigation to afford due process to the examinees. The examinees, in fact, only learned of the said decision to have a retake only through the mass media when the PRC issued an announcement on November 26, 2007. The examinees only got hold of Resolution No. 07-12 on December 6, 2007 when they initiated a dialogue with the PRC and the members of the Board of Civil Engineering.
Such actions is not only unprofessional on the part of the PRC but worse, a deceptive move on the part of the Commission that effectively branded the whole batch – I mean ALL examinees -- as cheaters without the benefit of an open and thorough investigation.
Let me emphasize that this is unlike last year's nursing exam controversy, where review centers were proven to be involved in the systematic cheating after a number of students exposed their modus operandi. This time, the PRC nullified the examination results of one subject, Hydraulics and Geotechnical Engineering, simply because in its view, it was “statistically improbable” that 461 our of 4,782 examinees perfected the exam.
On the other hand, the results of the examination on another subject, Structural Engineering and Construction, was also nullified because not because there was massive cheating but simply because two examinees were caught cheating using their mobile phones, one of which contained answers to 30 questions of which 21 were found to be correct.
It appears that PRC Chair Leonor Tripon-Rosero, Board of Civil Engineering Chairman Angel Lazaro III, and members Apollo S. Enriquez and Pedro Adonis Compendio are too gung-ho in assuming and branding the whole batch as cheaters in the two subjects by way of nullifying the results and calling for a retake. They are also downright lazy since they made their decision without conducting an appropriate investigation.
Mr. Speaker, dear colleagues, the PRC decision to nullify the said examination results has no factual and legal basis as there is no law or rule that has set a standard regarding “statistically improbable results.” So what if 461 examinees got perfect scores? If there is no evidence that they cheated, and none have been presented so far, then the PRC will simply have to accept the fact that there are 461 brilliant engineering graduates, at least in so far as hydraulics and geotechnical engineering is concerned.
As to the act of cheating using mobile phones as codigo, the evidence gathered so far is only enough to nullify the exam results of ONLY two persons and to suspend them from taking the examinations for the next 2 years, as provided under PRC Resolution No. 463 dated November 27, 1996.
Clearly, the PRC has acted with undue haste in nullifying the examination results and ordering a retake thereof without first conducting a fair and thorough investigation. By its paranoid actions, the PRC is ironically undermining the integrity of the Civil Engineering profession.
We believe that the PRC, in issuing the official announcement nullifying the examination results, violated the right to due process of all the examinees. This abrupt PRC decision requiring all the examinees to retake the exams is simply an act of injustice. Sure, those caught cheating should be penalized. But the PRC decision penalizes the whole batch of examinees on the flimsy basis of statistical improbability in one exam and because two cheaters were caught in another.
Mr. Speaker, everyone deserves an explanation. In the absence of an appropriate law that has set the standards, grounds and the appropriate process for the PRC and/or the boards under its supervision to observe before they could order the nullification of examination results in any of the professions under its powers, it would be appropriate to hear the demands of the civil engineering examinees.
We call on the PRC to stop or at least postpone the retake of the two subjects in the civil engineering licensure exams on January 12, 2007 pending a thorough, fair and transparent investigation.
The PRC should also immediately release the results of the examination and schedule the oath-taking of those who passed the examination and penalize those found guilty of cheating in the licensure exams.
Mr. Speaker, if the PRC wants to clean up its controversial image, it should not seriously damage the professions that it exercises regulatory powers on the way it has done to the nursing profession and now, the civil engineering profession.
This Representation fully believes that it should penalize those who run afoul of the law. But it should not result in the wholesale nullification of exam results just because it has discovered “statistical improbabilities” that they themselves cannot explain since they have not investigated anything.
The PRC must explain to this Chamber why it has resorted to violating the rights of due process of all the civil engineering licensure examinations.
Mr. Speaker, we have to help these future engineers whose reputations have been debased by the highly unprofessional acts of the PRC. It is my hope that we can help in cleaning up the said Commission and help in protecting the rights and welfare of the various professions under its power. Thus, a congressional inquiry should be made into the matter.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.