Legarda pushes increased benefits for nurses

Published June 10, 2021, 10:33 AM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

House Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda has called on the government to increase the wages and benefits of nurses in the Philippines.

(Jansen Romero/MANILA BULLETIN File Photo)

Legarda issued the appeal after lauded as a “welcome development” the Malacañang’s move to reverse the Department of Budget Management’s (DBM) July, 2020 circular that increased the salary of entry-level government nurses, but demoted senior nurses although retaining their wages.

“I am glad to hear that nurses will finally receive what is due them. Although the DBM Circular 2020-4 has provided a higher salary grade for entry-level nurses from Salary Grade (SG) 11 to SG 15, it adversely affected the employment status of long-serving senior nurses,” the Antique representative said in a statement Wednesday, June 9.

“It may have taken them years to earn the promotion from Nurse I to Nurse II, thus they do not deserve the demotion resulting from the issuance…Equitable opportunities especially within the sector are what the nurses need and deserve,” she added.

Legarda, however, found the increases provided under the memorandum issued by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea inadequate, citing the service and sacrifices if state nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Office of the President’s memorandum set the entry-level salary for Nurse 1 at SG 15, or at least P32,000 a month; while the salary for the rank of Nurse 2 was raised by around P3,000, promoting their salary grade from SG 15 to SG 16.

Nurses in higher ranks, meanwhile, will retain their current salary grades.

“This salary increase is minimal compared to the amount of sacrifices and service rendered by our nurses, especially in challenging times like this current pandemic. They have been suffering not only from physical fatigue from their seemingly unending shifts but also from tremendous emotional and psychological stress just to fulfill the solemn oath they took despite knowing the risks and threats of the virus,” Legarda stressed.

“Until now, our nursing sector are still heavily underpaid, not properly compensated, and deprived of training and re-training opportunities that is why a majority of nurses would rather leave the country to find greener pasture abroad,” she also lamented.

Legarda said the health workers’ benefits under the Bayanihan laws “is not enough compensation.”

The lawmaker further said: “We cannot just utilize the service of our hardworking nurses without giving adequate assistance to their daily needs as working individuals of this society. They are performing their duties to provide the essential healthcare services, devoting their time, energy, and sacrificing their personal safety to help the general public survive and communities to thrive, especially amid the pandemic.”

The DBM is also looking for fund sources for the proposed pay increases for nurses, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Tuesday, June 8.

As for the provision of back pay for demoted nurses, Malacañang said it is still seeking guidance from Medialdea as the government might not have enough funds to shoulder the cost.