Sleepless and overworked. Duterte govt blocks pay increase for nurses

Duterte’s top attack dog Solicitor eneral Jose Calida blocked the petition in the Supreme Court which aimed to increase the salaries of government nurses stating that it may cause inequality to the government salary structure. The petition stemmed from Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s EO which downgraded nurses salary grade from 10 to 11 in 2009.  And then in 2015, Party list Ang Nars filed a petition seeking Arroyo’s ‘Executive Order’ unconstitutional.

Why is this unconstitutional?

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s Executive Order issued in 2009 appears to be in conflict with Philippine Nursing Act of 2002 specifically under Section 32 which reads

“The minimum base pay of nurses working in the public health institutions shall not be lower than salary grade (SG) 15,” as prescribed under Republic Act 6758 or the Compensation and Position Classification System for civilian and military personnel.”

And only just a few years later did Arroyo downgraded the pay of nurses from Salary Grade 15 to just Salary Grade 11 under her Executive Order (EO) 811. Which is why the ‘Ang Nars’ partylist represented by Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz wants this deemed unconstitutional and revert nurses pay grade back to 15 which should be around 30,000 pesos per month.

State nurses overworked and underpaid?

A cousin of mine worked for a public hospital in the province. He shared to me that he’s only being paid around 6,000 per month for a 16 hour shift. And sometime due to a lack of manpower they are forced to be on duty longer than the legally-mandated eight hours. He said there are less than 30 nurses in the 120 bed-capacity hospital. If they cannot find a nurse to go on duty in their place, they cannot go home. He even narrated how there was one time where there’s only one nurse in the ER and in the ward which seriously affects how patients are being treated and taken care of. One nurse had been up for more than 15 hours and could no put IV’s on the patient due to extreme exhaustion.

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“..The greatest responsibility of our nurses is to ensure the safety and well-being of the people they take care of. The lives of our patients depend on the nurses’ acute judgment and their ability to deliver appropriate intervention in critical situations. This responsibility is enormous since the nursing profession deals with human lives..” — Eleanor Nolasco / Founding President of Nars ng Bayan

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Many nurses has since sent President Duterte letters decrying “rampant practice of backer/palakasan system” and the delay in salaries, the absence of basic benefits and 13th month pay etc. However, it seems that Duterte is lending them no ears and personally finds the concern of these nurses unimportant to his anti-criminal policies.

The government will do everything it can to improve and build new hospitals and even purchase new medical equipment. Hungry for the people’s praise. However, but the plight of the nurses were somewhat neglected. Their voices muffled and then many would call them out and to move into a different industry. Many seemed to have not understood the value that state nurses contributes to the welfare of its citizens. Despite being underpaid and overworked. They continued to work in accordance to their oath as medical professionals and pours their heart in service of the poor.

Calida blocks the nurses petition representing the Duterte govt

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Current Solicitor General Jose Caida argued that increasing nurses pay would only result to ”wage distortion” amongst government workers and insisted that on other technical merits that would trash the case in his favor. Like questioning the petioner not being a state-nurse and whose partylist is no longer an incumbent member of the Congress. Although, Solicitor General Calida asserted the the joint resolution was considered a law, which gave the former President Arroyo power to modify the compensation classification of civil servants but ‘Ang Nars’ lawyer Atty. Sharon Faith Paquiz said that the joint resolution, could not be considered as law, though it had the full force and effect of a law. She argued that the Constitution’s use of “bills” meant that resolutions could not be considered as law.

High prices of goods brought about by TRAIN Law worsen nurses economic situation?

Definitely it has. Though inflation ha since slowed down by the end of 2018, stil ‘inflation’ is 3.4% higher than last year. Which means that the prices of goods remained high for the consumers including our nurses. In fact, during the first six months of 2018 alone, households in the poorest first decile with Php7,724 monthly income have cumulatively lost Php993 due to inflation, those in the second decile (Php10,711 monthly income) have lost Php1,377 and those in the third decile (Php12,835 monthly income) have lost Php1,650. Households in the fourth decile (Php15,132 monthly income) have lost Php1,945, those in the fourth decile (Php17,309 monthly income) lost Php2,225, and those in the sixth decile (Php21,119) lost Php2,715.

Even worst, Duterte continues to block pay-increase for the overworked state-nurses. Is this the leader that many voted for ‘Change’?

“..Mamatay kayo sa hirap at gutom. Wala akong pakialam..” — Duterte


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