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Supreme Court affirms SG 15 minimum pay for gov’t nurses

The Supreme Court (SC) upheld the validity of a provision of the law, which sets the minimum pay for government nurses to Salary Grade (SG) 15.

In a decision dated Oct. 8, the court, through Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, ruled in favor of the petition of Ang Nars Partylist challenging the validity of a congressional resolution and Executive Order 811, which effectively reduced the legislated minimum pay of government nurses from SG 15 to SG 11.

The SC said Joint Resolution 4, passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate in June 2009 being a mere resolution, cannot amend or repeal a full-fledged law such as Republic Act (RA) 9173 or the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002.

It said that similarly, EO 811, which implements Joint Resolution 4, is also not a law but an executive directive and cannot prevail over RA 9173.

Joint Resolution 4 authorized the President to modify the compensation and position classification system of civilian personnel and the base pay schedule of military and uniformed personnel in government.

EO 811 implementing the said resolution mandated that the salary grade for the position of Nurse 1 be from SG10 to SG11, way below the salary grade for government nurses under Section 32 of RA 9173 which is SG 15.

The court granted the petitioners Ang Nars Party-list, represented by Cong. Leah Primitiva G. Samaco-Paquiz plea to declare as valid Section 32 of the Philippine Nursing Act.

However, the court did not grant the prayer of the petitioners to compel the implementation of Section 32 of RA 9173 since its implementation would necessarily require a law passed by Congress providing the necessary funds for it.

RA 9173, signed into law by Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2002, provides among others that “the minimum base pay of nurses working in public health institutions shall not be lower than salary grade 15 prescribed under Republic Act 6758, otherwise known as the “Compensation and Classification Act of 1989:”

For nurses working in local government units, adjustments to their salaries shall be per Section 10 of the said law.

On June 17, 2009, Arroyo, in implementing Joint Resolution 4, issued EO 811, and Section 6 of the said EO 811 mandated that the salary grade (SG) for the position “Nurse I” be increased from SG 10 to SG 11.

Paquiz wrote letters to the Department of Health, Department of Justice, and Department of Budget and Management and sought clarification on why government nurses’ salaries were downgraded to SG 11 when under RA 9173, they are entitled to SG 15.

Having received no satisfactory response from the respondent agencies, Paquiz took the matter to the Supreme Court in 2015.

Under the last tranche of Executive Order 201 signed by former President Benigno Aquino III, SG 11 and SG 15 are equivalent to a monthly basic pay of PHP20,754 and PHP30,531, respectively. (By Benjamin Pulta, PNA)

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