The Supreme Court (SC), last Tuesday, has ruled out that nurses in the government or in the public sector should receive a monthly salary no less than P30,000 on a monthly basis; equivalent to Salary Grade (SG) 15. This was after various groups sought to have at least a P30K basic salary for nurses.
There are about half a million nurses in the country and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), in a calendar year, about 38,000 nurses are produced along with 4,500 physicians.
But why is nursing so in demand? Why do thousands of Filipinos take the path to nursing?
Nursing has been so popular even back in the day as the medicine field became rampant and its demand grew worldwide. This is why a lot of Filipinos took a degree in Nursing with the hopes that they can get and work elsewhere.
But just a few handfuls of nursing graduates in the Philippines look to work and serve our country. The reason? Because of a low, standard salary.
The Philippine Nursing Act
In a supreme decision finalized by Senior Justice Antonio Carpio last October 8th, 2019; during its en banc session, the Supreme Court made the decision confirm and support Section 32 of the Republic Act (R.A.) 9173 or the Philippine Nursing Act.
The court declared that they are ruling the situation in favor of the petitioners, the Ang Nars partylist represented by Leah Samaco-Paquiz.
In ruling in favor of the petitioners, the Court ruled that Joint Resolution No. 4, being a mere resolution, cannot amend or repeal a prior law such as RA 9173 or the Philippine Nursing Act. The same applies to EO 811 which is also not a law, but an executive directive.”
Section 32 simply discusses that the government and all other public health institutions nurses should NOT be receiving a monthly salary lower than SG 15 or P30,531.00.
As per the last and final tranche of the Executive Order (E.O.) 201 signed by former President Benigno Aquino III, SG 11 is equivalent to a monthly pay of P20,754.00 whilst SG 15 is equal to P30,531.00.
Was this given order by the SC?
They confirmed the petition, however, the appeal of the petitioners was not granted to force or oblige the government to fully implement Section 32 of the R.A. 9173 because according to them, the “implementation would necessarily require a law passed by Congress providing the necessary funds for it.”
It’s a yes! But wait…
Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III said that they approve of and support the call and petition of these nurses. The only problem is that they have insufficient funds to execute it.
He further explained saying that it’s up to the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to allocate and properly distribute the funds.
We support it 1,000 percent. But it is now the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) and DOF’s (Department of Finance) call. It’s easy to say ‘yes, we will give you a higher salary.’ [But] at the end of the day, the question is do we have the funds?”
Appeal of the FNU
The Filipino Nurses United (FNU) is a local organization for both private and public health institutions, said that the government can easily make this effective if they want to do so.
Eleanor Nolasco, FNU National President, said that the reason why nurses in the government choose to leave the country is that they aren’t paid sufficiently.
Furthermore, she said that nurses in the government can easily be given what they want just like how policemen got it. She even said that “funds aren’t the problem, it’s actually because of political will.”
When President Duterte wanted to raise the salaries of policemen, there were funds for it. So it’s not believable that they don’t have the funds [for nurses]. They have the money if they want to, but they have a thousand reasons if they don’t want to.”
How much do nurses earn in other countries?
Looking at it at this perspective, both nurses in the government and in the private sector can get jobs in the West (Canada and the United States) and earn a minimum of about P200,000 a month. This is why most, if not all nursing graduates, wish to work abroad.
Based on historical and current data, the nurse-to-patient ratio is at 1:40 in some hospitals; whilst the DOH says that the ideal ratio is just 1:12. Adding the fact that both nurses in the government plus private nurses are only paid within the ranges of P18,000 to P21,000 on a monthly basis.
Health Secretary Duque said that nurses are of a vital importance in the society as they’re the ones providing and ensuring the health of Filipinos.
Nurses are an important provider of health care. There can be no universal health care without nursing care.”
Nevertheless, the petition ended to an open string with the conclusion that it’s up to both the DOF and the DBM on whether they’ll approve it.
What do you think about the petition of nurses in the government plus those in the private sector? Would a P30K monthly salary be enough for them?