Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Truth, justice, and the Filipino way

The past few weeks, much has been said but little has been done about the nursing licensure exam scandal. It's been quite a while since the leakage of answers to certain portions of the test was uncovered, but several protest rallies, dozens of debates and hundreds of news pieces later, we still have thousands of unlicensed nurses whose fate remains in question. The Arroyo administration has flip-flopped so many times on the issue, they're giving Havaianas a bad name. "There will be no retake of the nursing board exam. No way, no how. Oh, hang on a sec, GMA changed her mind. There will definitely be a retake of the exam. Whoops, did we say retake? No, no, the case is still with the Court of Appeals, so we can't say anything at the moment." It's always reassuring when the government displays such firm, decisive resolve.

I've been following the news on the nursing board exam with more than my usual interest in current events (more so than the knee-jerk overreaction to the whole billboards brouhaha, which I find tiresome). It's always a gas to see our country's leaders' pathetic attempts at dealing with cheating, when we live in a culture that not only condones, but often rewards dishonesty and unscrupulous practices. It's like watching someone bailing water out of a sinking boat with a sieve. Personally, I believe there should be a retake, if only because the arguments for NOT having one are just too ridiculous. "Why punish the ones who took the test in the Visayas and Mindanao? Surely there was no way the leakage reached them!" Oh yeah, of course not. There are, after all, no such things as cell phones that could reach that one nursing student in Cebu whose boyfriend just happens to have a cousin who took nursing board exam review classes in Baguio. Inconceivable!

There is no foolproof way of ascertaining that the leak was contained to a minority of the test-takers. And even if the leak had reached only a handful of nurse hopefuls, the results of the entire exam are already tainted, and hence, invalidated-- including the results reached without the advantage of leaked test items. That is one hard-to-accept but necessary consequence of cheating: even if only a few commit it, the rest have to pay for it as well. Both the guilty and the innocent are punished... and that doubles (or in this case, magnifies by the thousand) the guilt of the cheaters. I truly feel sorry for those who did study their asses off to pass the exam, but I also wish some of them who are refusing to retake the exam would just quit whining already. Yes, you were not privvy to the items leaked. Yes, you really did technically pass the exam on your own merits. Yes, it's unfair. But it would be even more unfair NOT to have retake, to let some undeserving bum get away with cheating and obtain his nursing license (read: one-way ticket to the US of A). Your chances of getting hired by a hospital in the US are shot anyway, if there's no retake. So curse the cheaters all you want, but just retake the damn exam, not only because it's for your own welfare, but because it's the right thing to do. It's the just thing to do.

Justice is not always fair. We always confuse justice with fairness, or worse, mercy (that's like saying love and romance are one and the same). We Filipinos are soft-hearted shmucks by nature, so whenever someone screws up, forgiveness is always expected. The philandering husband. The corrupt politician. The tax-evading celebrity. The doping athlete. We grow up in an environment where cheating is punished by nothing more than a slap on the wrist, glossed over by the most lame excuses: "it was a moment of weakness" or "he didn't know better" or "she was merely coerced" or "there were mitigating circumstances" (the latter being my personal favorite).
We're so used to pardoning liars and cheats, we tend to turn a blind eye to all other acts of questionable morals or ethics. It's like, we might as well skip the trouble of conducting a thorough investigation and subjecting the suspect to public scrutiny and/or censure. What's the point, if we all know he's going to get off the hook anyway?

Thus, you don't hear much about the NBI's ongoing hunt for the source of the nursing exam leak, or the UAAP digging for the people behind the fake academic papers of the 2 LaSalle basketball players, or the government exerting any effort to discover the real identity of either Jose Velarde or Jose Pidal (the fact that it took you a couple of seconds to recognize those names proves my point), or a renewed attempt to get to the bottom of those accursed "Hello, Garci" tapes. After the initial furor has died down, and given a conveniently distracting side issue (retake the exam!) or a development masquerading as a solution (DLSU suspended for one year! Erap impeached! GMA apologized!) it doesn't matter anymore who the mastermind was, which accomplices were involved, and how the devious plan was carried out (you get more concrete conclusions from a game of Clue-- "It was Colonel Mustard in the conservatory with the candlestick!"). We Filipinos are not interested in pinning blame, or assigning responsibility to the guilty parties, much less punishing them for it. Maybe it's because we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, or we're just pacifists by nature, or we don't want to inconvenience anyone. Or maybe we're just too lazy and apathetic to give a shit. Or maybe we've been burned one too many times before. Maybe we're just tired, and jaded.


The truth may set us free, but tragically, we seem to prefer captivity in ignorance and deception.

2 Comments:

At Wednesday, October 11, 2006, Anonymous mishokengkeng said...

Standing ovation na sana ako pero when you brought up the La Salle-UAAP thing... Ayyy. Hehe, I do agree that La Salle should have had a more severe punishment (I will disguise my name at the bottom so other La Sallians can't track me down), but fact is, Money speaks more loudly than these anomalies that you call "justice" and "fairness". I do not think that this is only confined in the Philippines because in my opinion, society in general has an eroded sense of moral values. Now it's okay for a US President to admit to extra-marital affairs. Celebrity drug junkies, pimps and prostitutes, become inspirational figures (see Walk the Line and Ray Charles, Hustle & Flow and Monster, all of which are Oscar-nominated or winning films). And on TV, they use sex to sell everything (remember that biscuit commercial? I think it was Magic Flakes). If you launch into a rhetoric condemning these immoral acts, you are labelled as a conservative, a Bible-thumping prude. So your choice would be either to join them (because you can't beat them) or to change your name into Prudy.

 
At Wednesday, October 11, 2006, Blogger Ailee Through the Looking Glass said...

Thanks for the comment, anonymous LaSallite. :p

Rereading my post, I realized my thoughts were really disorganized and my line of reasoning somewhat flawed. Haha. But I get like that whenever I feel strongly about something (that's an Atenean for you ;p). I'm sorry if I made it sound like Filipino society is the only one that makes a mockery out of justice. I'm sure we are not the only culture that coddles cheaters, nor are we necessarily the worst at enforcing/upholding justice. But it does get frustrating when you see it every single day in the papers, how we let dirty rotten scoundrels get away with the most dastardly deeds.

Maybe I should just stop reading the newspapers. :)

 

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