Sad but True, the circulating grandiose promises for nurse salary increase remain and have always been an imagination than real.
Nurse Salary Increase: Broken Promises
Tracing back from the year 2002, where the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002 got its very name (also, the Republic Act No. 9173), Salary Grade 15 for Nurses was already the mandated minimum base pay (P31,000). Then came 2009 when Arroyo signed EO No. 811 based on Joint Resolution No. 4, modifying scheme of some professions, including nurses dropping the salary grade to 10 to 11 (P22,050) only. Fast forward to 2019 and of 17 years long, Supreme court had finally set an oral argument earlier this year whether to repeal or amend the 2002 law or compel the government to follow the Nursing Act. Tuesday, October 8, 2019, government nurses secured a victory from Supreme Court, entitling them for a higher basic pay.
Nurse Salary Increase: The Reality
Reality is, the SC Public Information Office stated,
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.
In addition, the grant for Ang Nars’ request to compel the implementation of higher salaries is not doable without a law passed by Congress providing the necessary funds for it.
The same goes with DOH secretary, Francisco Duque III,
If there is money to fund it, great, we support it 1000 percent.
However, the decision still depends on the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and Department of Finance (DOF).
That is now a DBM call and DOF… because it is easy to say yes, we give you a higher salary, we will give you more money. But where is the beef? At the end of the day, the question is meron bang pondo [is there enough budget]?,”
This problem will have to have solutions but we cannot find them overnight.
Duque has recognized that the role of nurses is vital to the country’s healthcare system.
Nurses are an important provider of healthcare, there can be no Universal Health Care without nursing care.
Unfortunately, a mere support for a nurse salary increase is not enough to put food on the table nor bring kids to school. The word eligible for a nurse salary grade 15 and the fact that this has been our long overdue fight prove how underrated nurses are here in the Philippines yet the government has the guts to limit the deployment of nurses to work abroad. I wouldn’t even need to elaborate more in this part.
I just dread thinking that they wouldn’t be where they are without the presence of healthcare providers, the nurses–the number of times they visit a hospital, the long hours they get nursing bedside care. I hope they get to realize that every second of a nurse they get is a precious time stolen from their personal lives. They care for strangers and other families yet their very own families yearn for them.