MANILA – As a way to stop some 22,000 health professionals from leaving the country every year, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan has refiled the Comprehensive Nursing Law, which seeks to raise the salary of entry-level nurses from P19,077 (Salary Grade 11) to P26,192 (Salary Grade 15).
“Libo-libo sa ating mga health professionals ay mas pinipiling magtrabaho sa ibang bansa dahil may kakulangan sa oportunidad sa Pilipinas at hindi sapat ang kita (Thousands of our health professionals choose to work overseas because of unemployment and unjust compensation),” Pangilinan said.
Senate Bill 965, or the Comprehensive Nursing Law of 2016, aims to reform and strengthen the public health sector by ensuring adequate compensation and just working conditions for the nursing profession.
“Tayo ang pinakamalaking exporter ng nurses sa buong mundo, bagamat malaki rin ang pangangailangan dito sa ating bansa. Kaunting porsyento lamang ng mga taga-probinsya, lalo na ang mga mahihirap, ang nakikinabang sa serbisyo ng mga propesyonal sa larangan ng medisina (We are the biggest exporter of nurses in the world, but our need for medical professionals is dire. Only a number of citizens in the rural areas, especially the poor, have access to professional medical services),” Pangilinan said.
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 22,000 health professionals leave the Philippines annually to work abroad, or almost 85 percent of Filipino nurses citing “unemployment, low salaries, and unjust working conditions” as primary reasons for leaving.
Republic Act 9173, or the Nursing Law of 2002, provides that the salary grade of nurses working in government institutions shall not be lower than 15. However, the issuance of the Salary Standardization Law 3 in 2009 pushed back the basic pay of government nurses to Salary Grade 11 (P19,077 in the first tranche).
SB 965 also aims to establish a Board of Nursing that will “supervise and regulate the practice of the nursing profession,” including the proper conduct of the Nursing Licensure Examination, as well as enforcing quality standards of nursing practice, among others.
In the case of nurses working in non-governmental or private health institutions, the minimum salary shall also be equivalent to that of government hospitals and institutions’ Salary Grade 15 (P26,192).
“Sana ay mahimok nito ang ating mga nurse na manatili sa bansa, lalo na sa mga probinsya kung saan may mas malaking pangangailangan (We hope that this will encourage more of our nurses to stay in the country to work, particularly in the rural areas where they are most needed),” Pangilinan said.
A version of the measure was vetoed by President Benigno Aquino III last June.
Pangilinan is also pushing for the increase in the minimum salary grade level of government doctors (Senate Bill 57) from Salary Grade 16 to Salary Grade 24. SB 57 and No. 965 are part of Pangilinan’s legislative bills for the 17th Congress.