DAVAO CITY – Partylist representative Carlos Isagani Zarate said they will refile House Bill 5540 or the Comprehensive Nursing Law in the next Congress after President Benigno Aquino III vetoed the provision increasing the entry-level pay of nurses.
Zarate also appealed to incoming President Rodrigo Duterte to support the bill.
The Comprehensive Nursing Law will upgrade nurses’ monthly minimum salary to P25,000 or the equivalent of salary grade 15, provide for better working conditions for nurses and the overall development of the profession, Zarate said.
“When we filed the bill in the last Congress, Bayan Muna recognized the unjust salary and working conditions our government nurses have, who, in the flight of many of our nurses abroad to find greener pastures, become more and more overburdened. This is happening despite the number of nurses graduating year after year in our country,” Rep. Zarate pointed out.
“We hope that this bill upgrading nurses’ salary will fare better in the next administration,” he said.
Zarate said President Aquino’s veto of the consolidated House Bill 6411 and Senate Bill 2720 is “cruel and uncaring on the urgent demands and needs of our people.”
“If there is a legacy the exiting Aquino presidency could claim is its consistent and unrelenting callousness against our working people and the poor,” he said.
Aquino earlier vetoed a move to increase the pension of the elderly.
The bill provides a minimum base pay which shall not be lower than Salary Grade 15 or its equivalent for Filipino nurses in both government and private health institutions.
President Aquino said in his veto message that the minimum base pay for entry-level nurses has already been increased through Executive Order No. 201, series of 2016, which raised their total guaranteed annual compensation from P228,924 to P344,074.
The President said the bill will undermine the existing government salary structure and cause wage distortion, not only among medical and health care practitioners but also other professionals in the government service.
He also said that the proposed increase “seemingly disregards the financial capacity of most local government hospitals”, which could lead to downsizing of hospital personnel and the increase in health care costs.
However, Zarate said nurses are supposed to be given “at least P25,000, or the equivalent the salary allotted for salary grade 15 as provided for by Republic Act 9173 or the Nursing Act of 2002.”
“But even President Aquino’s Executive Order No. 201 signed this year only provides P 20,754, or the amount being received by those in salary grade 11, which will only be received after four years,” he said.
Zarate also urged fellow lawmakers to expedite the salary hike of our nurses, as an urgent response to the exacerbating health system crisis and to hear the demands of health workers, especially those working in public hospitals.
“The crisis of our health system is worsened by our poor treatment of our nurses and health workers,” he said. (davaotoday.com)