DBM, group confirm reversal of gov't nurses' demotion, pay hike

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 07 2021 07:54 PM

A nurse steps out of the house after administering Sinovac’s COVID19 vaccine to a resident in Marikina City on April 29, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The Department of Budget and Management and a nurses' association on Monday confirmed "twin" victories reversing the demotion and raising the pay for some government nurses. 

The DBM circular last year raised the salary of entry nurses. However, it also dissolved the Nurse VII or "chief nurse" rank. This effectively demoted the positions of Nurses II to VII by one rank lower, while retaining their salary level. 

The budget department, in a statement, confirmed that President Rodrigo Duterte's office decided "to upgrade the salary grade (SG) of Nurse II from SG 15 to SG 16 and to retain the position titles of Nurse III to Nurse VII with their corresponding SGs."

The salary increase to SG 16 from 15 is around P3,000, said Filipino Nurses United vice president Eleanor Nolasco. 

"We consider it a twin victory kasi natigil ‘yong demotion and at the same time, na-increase, kahit nominally, iyong Nurse II position," she said in an interview on ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo. 

(We consider it a twin victory because the demotion of nurses was stopped and at the same time, the salary of the Nurse II position was increased, even nominally.) 

Nolasco said it took "consistent calling out on our part and lobbying, and raising public opinion and awareness before they (Duterte's office) finally considered and they reversed that decision of the DBM."

"It had to take almost a year para makita ‘yong injustice na ‘yon," she said. 

"Tawag sila nang tawag na kami raw ang mga bagong bayani, na talagang niri-recognize ang contribution. Yet, doon sa simpleng pag-recognize sa pamamagitan ng sahod saka posisyon, hindi nila ginawa." 

(They keep calling us the modern heroes whose contribution they recognize. Yet, they could not give even simple recognition, through salary and position.)
 
The previous demotion of nurses, she said, would have affected their retirement benefit, chances of promotion, and job description, among others. 

The health department last year suspended the demotion. However, this "was not observed on the ground," said Nolasco.

The budget department said it was crafting guidelines, and will consult the health department and the Offie of the President "to ensure the availability of funds" for the salary increase and demotion reversal of nurses.

"The DBM wishes to clarify that it is not its intention to deceive our nurses as we have been consistent in saying that absent of any legal basis to effect the upgrading of the salary grade of the Nurse II position, the provisions of Budget Circular No 2020-4 will continue to take effect consistent with the decision of the Supreme Court in Ang NARS Party-List, et. al. vs. the Executive Secretary," it said. 

"Rest assured that the DBM will promptly act to implement this decision as soon as pertinent details on procedures and funding are settled with the DOH and the OP." 

The FNU will monitor this, Nolasco said. She noted that some local governments argue that their income should be the basis for the salary of nurses they employ. 

"Ang position po namin, government sector pa rin ‘yan, regardless kung LGU ka or national. Dapat kasama sila sa circular na ‘to," she said. 

(Our position is they are still part of the government sector, regardless of whether you are part of an LGU or the national government. They should be part of that circular.)