President Benigno Aquino 3rd has vetoed a proposed law that seeks to raise salary of nurses.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Aquino rejected consolidated House Bill 6411 and Senate Bill 2720 entitled “An Act Providing for a Comprehensive Nursing Law Towards Quality Health Care System, and Appropriating funds Therefor.”
“The President has informed Congress, through the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, that he has vetoed the [bill]which seeks the enactment of a comprehensive nursing law,” Coloma told reporters.
In his veto message, Aquino noted that the minimum base pay for nurses has been increased through Executive Order 201, series of 2016, which raised their annual compensation from P228,924 to P344,074.
“While we recognize the objective of the bill to promote the well-being of the country’s nurses, we cannot support the bill in its present form because of its dire financial consequences,” Aquino said.
He explained that granting the pay increase will place the salaries of nurses over and above their other similarly situated counterparts, such as optometrists and dentists.
“To grant the proposed increase will not only undermine the existing salary structure of medical and health care practitioners, but will also cause wage distortion not only among health professionals but also among other professionals in the government service,” Aquino said.
“Such preferential treatment in favor of nurses over and above other health professionals and professionals in the government service appears unconscionable and violative of the equal protection clause enshrined in the Philippine Constitution,” he added.
Aquino also said the proposed law will affect the financial viability of private hospitals and non-government health institutions.
He said the proposed increase could have “unintended repercussions, such as possible downsizing of hospital personnel and consequent increase in health care costs.”
“This may similarly discourage continued investments in the health care sector,” the President added.
The proposed comprehensive nursing law also upholds the welfare of nurses, in conformity with the government policy of protecting workers’ rights.
The bill tasks the Department of Health to create an Advanced Practice Nursing Program to upgrade the skills of specialty nurses.