Supreme Court sets oral arguments on bid to increase nurses’ salary

Lian Buan
The petition from 2015 seeks to give nurses a salary grade where they could earn as much as P31,000 per month

NURSES' SALARY. A petition seeks to increase the salary of public nurses in the Philippines. AFP file photo

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) announced on Friday, February 1, that the en banc has decided to hold oral arguments on a 2015 petition that seeks to increase the salary of nurses to as much as P31,000 a month.

The oral arguments will be held on February 26, starting at 2 pm.

A petition filed by the group Ang Nars – whose party list was then represented in Congress by Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz, wants to declare unconstitutional an executive order that former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed in 2009 that set the nurses’ salary grade from 10 to 11. (READ: Why our nurses are leaving)

Arroyo’s Executive Order No. 811 was based on a joint resolution by Congress that sought to modify the compensation scheme of some professions, including nurses.

Section 32 of the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002, or Republic Act No. 9173, says nurses should be on salary grade 15. In the current tranche of salary grades, salary grade 15 earns as much as P31,545 a month.

It would go higher to P33,279 a month once the 4th tranche is effected. After the signing of the 2019 budget, this is supposed to take effect as promised. 

But in 2009, Arroyo signed EO No. 811 based on Joint Resolution No. 4, which states that nurses have a salary grade of 10 to 11, meaning, nurses would be earning only as much as P22,055 per month.

The main issue that the SC will tackle is whether the joint resolution can repeal the 2002 law, and if not, whether the SC can compel the government to follow the Nursing Act.

“The Court directs the Office of the Solicitor General to confer with the Senate of the Philippines and the House of Representatives for the submission of their position papers on whether a joint resolution can amend or repeal an existing law, and on how the passage of a bill into law compares with the passage of a joint resolution,” the SC said in a notice sent to parties. 

Low pay, coupled with long shifts, drive Filipino nurses to leave home and seek jobs abroad.

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.