Better pay for state nurses

March 14, 2019

THE Anakalusugan Partylist has vowed to push for legislation that would increase the minimum base pay of state nurses to Salary Grade 15 amid a legal debate on whether a joint resolution of Congress can repeal the section on compensation of the Philippine Nursing Act.

“It will be a disservice to our dedicated, if not overworked, public nurses if we do not give the compensation due them,” Anakalusugan partylist nominee Mike Defensor said.

“To avoid legal confusion, we will remedy this by pushing for a new measure that will give just compensation to our state nurses and increase their minimum base pay to Salary Grade 15,” he added.

Earlier, Solicitor General Jose Calida said the government cannot be compelled to increase the salary of public nurses “without any legal basis.”

Calida said Section 32 of the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002 which increases the entry-level pay of nurses in public health institutions to Salary Grade 15 has effectively been repealed by a 2009 Joint Resolution by Congress.

Joint Resolution No. 4 repealed all provisions of all laws prescribing salary grades for government officials and employees other than those in the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989, which effectively set back the minimum base pay of state nurses to Salary Grade 11.

Meanwhile, Defensor said the Anakalusugan partylist will also work for the passage of a law that would standardize the salary and allowances of barangay health workers (BHW) and barangay nutrition scholars (BNS).

“Barangay health workers and barangay nutrition scholars are our frontliners at the grassroots level. The recent measles outbreak showed the critical roles that they play in delivering medical services to our kababayans, especially those in areas where there are no public hospitals and public doctors,” he said.

“We should reward barangay health workers and barangay nutrition scholars for their service. They have the biggest responsibility in providing health care services to the public, especially among poor families, yet they themselves remain marginalized. They are our unsung heroes who are not just underpaid but are also under-appreciated,” he said.

Barangay health workers and barangay nutrition scholars receive honoraria for their services, but these are not fixed and vary per local government unit.

They also do not enjoy security of tenure, and thus find themselves at risk of losing their jobs after every election period.

“We should insulate them from local politics. Mechanisms should be in place so that barangay captains cannot just fire these workers on a whim. Our barangay health workers and barangay nutrition scholars should remain apolitical just as the national health agenda should not distinguish political colors,” Defensor added.