The exam is scheduled in the wake of the controversy that hit the June 2006 NLE on test questions leakage.
Hundreds of applicants celebrated the move announced Thursday by Josephine Liamzon, PRC regional director for Southeastern Mindanao, after a tiff between the applicants and PRC officials over nights of long queues and alleged flip-flopping by the PRC.
Liamzon said they have received more applicants to the exams this year compared to last year. In 2005, she said they attended to only 2,600 applicants. She is expecting the number to swell to 4,000 this year.
Liamzon said one of the factors to the increase is the greater demand for nurses abroad. She also cited their manpower constraints not to be able to accommodate the rest of the applicants in five days given their daily batting average of being able to process only 150 applicants.
This was not the first time the deadline was moved. It was originally set on Nov. 2 for applicants in PRC's regional offices. But the PRC moved deadline to Nov. 7 because of the number of applicants. The national deadline, on the other hand, is on Nov. 13.
The PRC announced Wednesday they could only accommodate 1,000 out of at least 1,500 applicants with a pledge to process 250 applications everyday on Nov. 2, 3, 6 and 7. Applicants who did not belong to the priority 1,000 were asked to take the exams either in Manila or in Cagayan de Oro and applications will be processed after Nov. 7.
The PRC later agreed to accommodate 300 more on Saturday, Nov. 4, a non-working day. But still at least 200 could not be accommodated and were advised to wait until Nov. 13 if PRC Manila would accommodate them.
The applicants appealed that their applications be processed and be allowed to take the exam in Davao, not in Manila nor Cagayan de Oro.
"That's very difficult and expensive for us. It will be very costly," said Paolo, 24, from General Santos City.
Two other applicants, from Cotabato City and another from Davao who asked not to be named, said they would have wanted to file earlier, but they were able to obtain their documents from their nursing schools only lately. The two criticized the PRC for lack of personnel.
Liamzon said there are more examinees in Davao than in Cagayan de Oro. She noted that a week before the deadline last year, there were 2,200 applicants in Davao and only 1,400 in Cagayan de Oro.
The NLE is conducted twice a year, first in June and in December, in testing centers around the country. Mindanao has three, the third being Zamboanga City.
Liamzon cited the intervention of the Office of the Ombudsman for Mindanao and the assistance of the city government of Davao that led to the extension. The Ombudsman office received a request for assistance and complaints from applicants on Nov. 1.
Lawyer Eileen Lizada, a graft investigator and prosecution officer, said some of the applicants complained why the PRC could not accommodate their application anymore.
She said the applicants requested assistance via text messages. The Ombudsman, Lizada said, negotiated for the extension with PRC Manila.
City Administrator Wendel Avisado told reporters Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has offered personnel from the city hall's Human Resources Management Office (HRMO) and the Civil Security System Unit (CSSU) to help PRC employees attend to the applicants. The city government has also offered computers and the Almendras gym for a bigger venue.
Marcelino Escacalda, HRMO chief, said the city government extended help to PRC to hasten their work and to protect the applicants from danger.
HRMO officials and staff helped PRC personnel man the processing of applications. They also served broth meals to the applicants who stayed late and came early for the long queue.