Senators seek funding for government nurses’ pay hike
MANILA, Philippines – Government nurses may have to wait only until January next year for a pay hike as senators sought to insert a special provision in the proposed 2020 national budget to fund the said increase.
During Tuesday’s plenary deliberation on the proposed budget of the Department of Health (DOH) for next year, several senators raised a recent Supreme Court ruling upholding the validity of a provision under the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002.
Under Section 32 of the said law, entry-level government nurses are entitled to a minimum base pay of Salary Grade 15.
Salary Grade 15 is equivalent to not less than P30,000.
Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, who defended the budget of the DOH, said that P3.17 billion is needed annually to implement the entry-level salary adjustment.
Go, however, said the funding for the implementation of the minimum base pay increase is not included in the proposed 2020 national budget.
“While we support the increase of our government nurses, the Supreme Court (ruling) has not yet been taken into consideration in this budgetary measure,” he said.
The DOH and the Department of Budget Management are still studying the needed appropriation for its implementation, Go further noted.
The neophyte senator, chairman of the Senate Health Committee, said there are currently around 40,000 government nurses (7,193 Nurse I and 32,842 Nurse II).
“Additionally, nurses are not only with the DOH. We have also nurses in the LGUs (local government units), CHEd (Commission on Higher Education), DepEd (Department of Education) and other agencies.
“We need to separate legislation. We need your cooperation to implement the decision and also address the possible wage distortion brought about by the SC decision,” he told fellow senators.
Go explained that the implementation of the Supreme Court decision would require the upgrading of Salary Grade (SG) of Nurse I from SG 11 to 15.
But to maintain the hierarchy of positions, Go said that the current Nurse II position with SG 15 would have to be upgraded to SG 16.
“Let’s put closure to the clamor of our government nurses for their salary upgrade,” Senator Panfilo Lacson said during his interpellation.
He noted that under the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) 2020, there is an item of funding requirements for staffing modification and upgrading of salaries under the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF).
“We can introduce a special provision and extract or source the P3 billion from the P12.469 billion under that particular item,” Lacson said.
“Nagamit na raw po dito ang P7 billion, sa DOH napunta, meron pang may naiwan P5 billion (The P7 billion have already been used and lodged under the DOH, so there is a remaining P5 billion). At the proper time…I will introduce an amendment to insert a special provision to source P3.17 billion from the P5 billion still remaining under that particular item if that’s ok with you,” he added.
Go said he was amendable to Lacson’s suggestion.
Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla also suggested that the funding for the salary hike of the government nurses be in a supplemental budget.
“This is the decision of the Supreme Court. So right now yung ating pong mga nurses ay inaasahan na rin po nito (our nurses are hoping this would be implemented),” Revilla said.
For his part, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the salary increase should immediately be funded if resources are already available.
“If are enough resources for 2020 at lumabas na yung Supreme Court decision, hindi ba dapat na pondohan natin itong P3.2 billion na pagkukulang sa budget para sa ating mga nurses,” he said.
“Will the (DOH) secretary have any objections if we put this in the budget?” he then asked.
Go said that the secretary has no objections to Recto’s suggestion.
Edited by GSG
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