The Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) on Thursday said the non-passage of the Comprehensive Nursing Law, which would have raised the salaries of nurses in government hospitals, may lead to more Filipino nurses seeking jobs abroad.
"With the opening of other countries for nurses, there might be again, an exodus ng nurses because of the very low salaries. Mabubuhay po ba ang isang nurse ng 8,000 and below na salary sa isang buwan?," PNA President Paulita Cruz told ANC's Dateline Philippines.
President Benigno Aquino III vetoed the proposed law, noting that the minimum annual base pay for entry-level nurses had already been increased from P228,924 to P344,074 by Executive Order 201.
Aquino said further raising their salaries will undermine the existing government salary structure and cause wage distortion.
Cruz however said that will not be the case as this law would have helped raise the salaries of all other health workers as it serves as the benchmark for all workers in the industry.
"If this law had been passed supposed to be, ang mangyayari po sana ay yung Salary Grade 15, magiging reference ng lahat ng health workers na i-adjust din para may decent [salary] po kami. May decent living and working standard naman ang aming mga nurses," she said.
She underscored that at the moment, most registered nurses don't even work as nurses because of the low pay.
"Most of our nurses are not working as nurses, but are working in somewhere else. They are not in the delivery care system, but they are working somewhere," she said.
The nurses and other health workers who do pursue their profession suffer from sub-par working conditions, she added.
"Lalo na po sa mga private hospitals, wherein they are favoring the negosyo rather than investment on health workers. Hindi lang po nurses ang ipinaglalaban namin dito, kundi lahat po," she said.
Cruz is hopeful, however, that the administration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte will fulfill its promise of giving premium on the Filipino human resources.
"We are just hoping that the next administration wherein one of the economic agenda of the incoming administration is to invest in human resources, including health human resources," she said.