Christian Deiparine (Philstar.com) – November 19, 2020 – 7:17pm
MANILA, Philippines — A nurses’ group on Thursday hit the delay in the implementation of the salary hike for entry-level nurses in state-run hospitals, which had been the result of a legal battle that stretched on for years.
The Supreme Court in 2019 ruled in favor of nurses and upheld a provision in the Philippine Nurses Act which states that government nurses should have a base pay of Salary Grade 15, not 11 as issued before by the Arroyo administration.
But in a briefing, the group Filipino Nurses United said the decision has yet to be properly rolled out, more than a year since the ruling that would raise the entry level pay to P32,000 per month.
“There are still thousands of nurses who have not received their salary difference retroactive January 1, 2020,” said FNU national president Maristela Abenojar. “DOH and DBM failed to monitor the actual implementation of SG 15.”
The health department in an October 21 memo said the budget agency’s circular on the upgrade of salaries had stirred confusion, but what was only suspended was the reordering of ranks of Nurse II and above.
This, however, had led to some government hospitals not complying with the SG 15, and even reverting those already with the new base pay back to SG 11, which FNU said described as “painfully degrading and demoralizing.”
“Ang hinihingi namin ay kung ano lang ‘yung nararapat sa amin, said Jaymee de Guzman of FNU. “Napakalungkot isipin na kailangan ang isang bagay na nasa batas na ay ipaglaban pa.”
(We are only asking what we are entitled to. It’s sad to think that we still have to fight for what is already enshrined in the law.)
Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday had raised the issue at the chamber’s budget deliberation for DOH’s proposed P212 billion budget in 2021.
He said concerns were relayed to him that local governments were indeed confusing the order to include as well halting the SG 15 base pay.
Sen. Pia Cayetano, sponsor of the agency’s funding, responded that health officials would make the clarification with the LGUs.
“To clarify, ‘yung sa Nurse I implemented na ‘yun, they are given the SG 15. Ang sumabit po riyan ‘yung Nurse II,” she said.
(The Salary Grade 15 for Nurse I is already being implemented. It is only Nurses II and above that are affected by the memo.)
Nurses are among the many responding to the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected over 413,000 and left nearly 8,000 in the country dead.
The ongoing health crisis has heightened calls for better pay among hospital workers, especially with government restricting nurses from leaving the country to work abroad in the hopes of bigger wages.
FNU has reported too that out of the more than 11,000 medical frontliners sick with the COVID-19, most of them are nurses at about 4,600.