Gov’t nurses' pay hike may be granted by January

Government nurses could get their much-needed salary hike as early as January next year once the 2020 General Appropriations Act (GAA) is enacted into law, Senator Panfilo Lacson said on Thursday.

"They don't have to wait six months or another year. By January, once we enact the GAA for 2020, ang salary upgrade nila (their salary upgrade) is taken care of," Lacson said in a statement.

This after the Senate adopted one of Lacson’s amendments in the Senate version of the national expenditure program.

Under the adopted special provision, "Increasing the Salary Grade of Government Nurses," the base pay of government nurses shall be Salary Grade (SG) 15 (PHP30,531 a month) from the existing Salary Grade 11 (PHP20,754 a month), in compliance with a recent Supreme Court (SC) ruling.

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Lacson specified that the PHP3.173 billion needed to fund the salary adjustments will be sourced from the appropriations for staffing modifications and upgrading of salaries, or the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefit Fund (MPBF).

“As the funds are already there under MPBF, government nurses need not wait for the passage of legislation or the availability of funds to be provided by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM),” Lacson said.

The senator is one of the vice-chairpersons of the 15-man Senate contingent to the bicameral conference committee set to meet Friday (Nov. 29) at the Manila Polo Club in Makati City to reconcile the Senate and House versions of the budget bill.

The Senate contingent will be led by Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, the chair of the Senate Committee on Finance.

Besides Lacson, the other members of the panel are Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, as well as Senators Cynthia Villar, Pia Cayetano, Sherwin Gatchalian, Christopher “Bong” Go, Richard Gordon, Imee Marcos, Joel Villanueva, Risa Hontiveros, Nancy Binay, Grace Poe and Francis Pangilinan.

In October, the SC upheld the validity of a provision of Republic (RA) Act 9173 or the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002 which sets the minimum pay for government nurses to SG 15.

The court ruled in favor of the petition of Ang Nars Party-list, challenging the validity of a congressional resolution and Executive Order 811, which effectively reduced the legislated minimum pay of government nurses from SG 15 to SG 11.

The SC said Joint Resolution 4, passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate in June 2009 being a mere resolution, cannot amend or repeal a full-fledged law such as Republic Act (RA) 9173 or the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002.

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