Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has finally released the much-awaited Budget Circular that is needed for the implementation of higher minimum salary of nurses.
In the press release of Senator Bong Go, Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, he said that the implementation is retroactive to January 1, 2020.
DBM issued Budget Circular No. 2020-4 implement Section 32 of the Republic Act No. 9173 or the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002, raising the minimum monthly base pay of entry-level nurses.
“Kinokomendahan ko po ang Department of Budget and Management sa paglabas ng circular upang tuluyang maipatupad na ang desisyon ng Korte Suprema na nagtataas ng salary grades ng mga government nurses natin. Dalawang dekadang laban ito ng mga nurses natin. Sa wakas ay maibibigay na ang dapat para sa kanila,” said Go.
Last year, Go, as Vice Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, fought for the inclusion of an additional P3 billion to the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund of the 2020 budget in order to provide for the salary upgrade of public nurses in Nurse I and II positions.
The case began in 2009 when Executive Order No. 811 was issued, setting SG 11 for the entry-level nurses in the government, contrary to what Section 32 of RA 9173 provides that the said salary grade be set at 15. The Ang Nars partylist filed a case, arguing that a mere executive order cannot amend the specific provisions of RA 9173. Eventually, the Supreme Court upheld the validity of the subject provision and whose decision became final and executory last December 13, 2019. As a consequence of the decision, the pay grades of other nursing level positions have likewise been upgraded as provided by law.
Entry-level nurses in the government will now be entitled to P32,053 to P34,801 monthly, from what they had been receiving, amounting to P22,316 to P24,391. The increase will also cover nurses, regardless of whether they are occupying regular, casual or contractual positions, full-time or part-time, in national government agencies, including state colleges and universities and government corporations, and local government units. It will not, however, apply to those in government agencies and corporations exempted from the coverage of the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989 (RA 6758).
Prior to this, civilian government personnel, including public nurses, received an increase in their salaries with the passing of the Salary Standardization Law 5 which was one of the priority measures authored by Senator Go and was passed late last year. It notably ascribed a 20% to 30% increase in the salaries of government employees, including nurses, under SG 10 to 15.
“Malaki ang diperensiya ng suweldo sa abroad at dito, pero nais kong dito na kayo magtrabaho para hindi kayo malayo sa mga pamilya ninyo. We made sure that DOH would have enough budget for its operations and healthcare professionals would not lose their jobs,” Go earlier said.
Go also proposed and defended last year a P7-billion increase in the Department of Health’s Human Resources for Health Deployment Program budget. The additional funds allowed the health department to ensure the continued employment of many health workers as well as to augment and retain health workers in rural regions of the country.
“Patuloy po nating ipaglalaban ang kapakanan ng ating health sector at kasama na rito ang kaukulang budget na kailangan para mas maisaayos ang ating healthcare services. Layunin natin na maging mas handa ang bansa sa kahit anumang krisis na darating,” he stressed.
He also urged DOH to properly compensate volunteer doctors, nurses and other health workers commensurate to the professional services that they are providing to the country.
In line with his advocacy of promoting the welfare of health workers, Go also filed Senate Bill No. 395 or the Advanced Nursing Education Act of 2019 which seeks to amend the Philippine Nursing Act. The bill seeks to provide community integration and immersion to encourage the country’s nurses to work in their local communities as part of their learning program. It also aims to develop specialized skills in various fields of advance nursing, including advanced practice nursing, ambulatory care nursing, critical care nursing, palliative care nursing and rehabilitation nursing.