Pinoy nurses say they are underpaid

By Gloria Jane BaylonGov’t nurses demand implementation of P16,093 minimum base pay. A hundred Philippine nurses, representing mostly public health institutions, today demanded that government immediately implement the monthly minimum base pay for nurses of not lower than P16,093, stressing this much is required under Republic Act 9173, also known as the Philippine Nursing Law of 2002.

They warned that the government has only itself to blame if the quality of nursing health care deteriorates, given that in many public hospitals a nurse attends to 50 patients as against the ideal of one nurse to 10 patients.

They also announced that unless the salary issue is addressed positively, they will hold their own SONA, or state of the nurses’ address, on Monday, July 28, near the Batasang Pambansa, where President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who signed the Nursing Law, is scheduled to deliver her annual State of the Nation Address.

‘Six years after the enactment of the Nursing Law, nurses (in government service) remain underpaid … many nurses are still receiving less than P10,000 monthly … way below the legal salary’ said Dr. Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz, president of the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA).

The Nursing Law’s Article VII, Section 32, clearly states that public nurses must be given the ‘salary of not lower than Salary Grade (SG) 15,’ which is listed at P16,093 in the Compensation and Classification Act (R.A. 6758).

Trumpeting their demand with a noise barrage at the premier public health institution of the country, the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), the nurses and officials of various nursing organizations later held a press conference at the same venue.

The groups included those of the PGH, the National League of Government Nurses and the National Center for Mental Health, PNA, and the Alliance of Health Workers.

Jossel Ebisante, secretary-general of the Alliance of Health Workers, and Annie Geron, joined Paquiz in questioning the delay of the implementation.

‘What we are asking for is not beyond the mandate of the law. So, why is it taking them (government) long to implement the salary … where the beneficiary is also the general public which nurses most willingly serve,’ Paquiz said in a prepared statement.

Paquiz warned of a possible mass movement for overseas employment unless the nurses are given the ‘attractive salary’ due them since 2002.

‘While salary is not the reason why nurses serve,’ Paquiz said she ‘recognizes that foreign employment becomes more attractive to these nurses.’

We need to entice these nurses to work in public health and in government service by this simple request to provide them what is just and legal.’

‘Let us not wait for the time when they all leave to work abroad,’ she stressed.

Paquiz is a member of the Technical Committee for Nursing Education of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

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