The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday said that it supports the proposed increase in the entry salary for nurses to P50,000 per month, but stressed that a law should be passed to provide a budget for it.
DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said this after the Filipino Nurses United repeated its call for the salary raise as a solution to the alarming “exodus” of nurses for employment abroad.
“Whatever compensation or benefits for our healthcare workers which would be according to the specific laws in the country, which would be according to and appropriate for the work that are being done, suportado ‘yan ng [that is supported by the] Department of Health,” Vergeire said in a press conference.
She, however, pointed out that only the government’s legislative branch could address this problem as far as the budget is concerned.
“Kapag may batas, may pinagkukuhanan ng pondo. We know that we have a lot of nurses, so this would entail a big or a huge budget coming from the national government. Kailangan pagusapan maigi ito between the legislative branch and the executive branch of the government, together with the DBM and DOH para mai-pasa natin ito as batas kung kinakailangan at ito naman ay papayagan,” she said.
(When there is a law, there is a source of funding. We know that we have a lot of nurses, so this would entail a big or a huge budget coming from the national government. This needs to be carefully discussed between the legislative branch and the executive branch of the government, together with the DBM and DOH so that we can pass it as a law if necessary and it will be allowed.)
Even President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. himself earlier agreed that benefits accorded to nurses are not enough, considering their services and sacrifices to ensure the health of the public.
He noted that as of August 19, 2022, the government has disbursed P25.82 billion worth of benefits for nurses including hazard duty pay, COVID-19 sickness and death compensation, meals, accommodation and transportation allowances, life insurance, Special Risk Allowance (SRA) and COVID-19 allowance.
Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) president Melvin Miranda, however, said nurses have not received the benefits that Marcos said have already been disbursed.
Based on the National Expenditure Program (NEP) submitted to the House of Representatives, the DOH is seeking a budget of P195 billion for 2023—close to P8 billion more than its P187.84-billion budget for the current fiscal year. — BM, GMA News