Two senators have so far expressed their support to the recent ruling of Supreme Court (SC) upholding nurses minimum pay to Salary Grade 15.
Senator Richard J. Gordon backs the SC decision to endorse Section 32 of Republic Act 9173 or The Philippine Nursing Act of 2002 that states that the minimum base pay for nurses working in the government hospitals and health institutions should start at SG 15 or P30,531 per month in the latest tranche of Salary Standardization Law.
Gordon has been emphasizing that Filipino nurses, both in the government and private hospitals and health institutions, should be compensated fairly as their salaries are not commensurate to their labor. Currently, entry-level nurses receive a salary of P8,000 to 13,500 only. The low pay being given to them, according to Gordon, is not fitting for their long hours of duty. This, he added, drives them to seek jobs abroad where they can earn more.
As a strong gesture of support to the nursing sector, Gordon filed a bill amending RA 9173 last July. It proposes a new comprehensive policy for Filipino nurses that will be beneficial to them and will give them opportunities to advance themselves in the nursing field while they serve the country’s growing needs for healthcare professionals.
According to the bill, “Once nurses graduate and become licensed, they should have the option to be hired by the government at a just pay and dispatched to places in the country where they are needed the most.”
Gordon also stressed that while there are many places in the country that are in need for healthcare professionals, a huge number of Nursing graduates are not working in hospitals and medical institutions, but in other industries such as the business process outsourcing (BPO) and aesthetics. Others are reported to be working in various review centers or put up their own businesses.
Gordon said, through the bill, the education-career mismatch among nurses will be resolved, as well as the scarcity of nurses in the country.
“Nurses should be respected. We want them to graduate and be paid well to serve our people. They are very important to public health and so, we must give them the compensation that they truly deserve,” said Gordon.
Senator Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, vowed to look for funds amounting to P1 billion for the implementation of the SC’s ruling.
“We should look for ways to provide the necessary funding to implement the Philippine Nursing Act which we passed when I was Senate President in 2002,” Drilon said.
“There are excess fats in the P4.1-trillion 2020 spending outlay which we can use to augment the minimum base pay of thousands of government nurses in accordance with the Republic Act 9173 and pursuant to the ruling of the Supreme Court,” he added.
The proposed 2020 national budget is being heard in the Senate and will be brought to the floor for deliberation when Congress resumes session in November.
Drilon said that there are around 7,193 authorized nurse 1 positions in government, which will entail additional P1 billion to implement RA 9173 starting 2020.
“If the government is willing to buy a P2 billion jet and if it can boldly ask Congress for a record-breaking P8.2 billion intelligence and confidential fund, I do not see any reason why we cannot fund the adjustment in the salary of our nurses,” Drilon said.
The Ilonggo senator is looking at three possible funding sources: the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF), the proposed budget for the 2020 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections and some unutilized revenues from the Sin Tax Law.
“We owe it to our nurses who provide patients 24/7 health care in overcrowded government hospitals, which sometimes comes at the expense of their own health and wellbeing,” he added.