Calida opposes increase of gov’t nurses’ salary, says “no legal basis”

MANILA, Philippines – Solicitor General Jose Calida expressed his opposition against the salary increase of government nurses.

The solicitor general told the Supreme Court that there is “no legal basis” to grant the petition of Ang Nars Party-list to raise the wages of nurses to Salary Grade 15.

Calida opposes increase of gov’t nurses’ salary, says “no legal basis”
Solicitor General Jose Calida says “no legal basis” to grant nurses’ petition for salary increase | Photo Courtesy: ABS-CBN

Following the oral arguments in the Supreme Court to discuss the petition, Calida said that the provision cited by the group had been repealed in 2009 by a joint resolution by Congress. He further added granting the petition would only lead to wage distortion.

Ang Nars Party-list cited section 32 of Republic Act 9173 or the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002 as their legal basis as it mandates the government that the minimum base pay of nurses in public health institutions shall not be lower than Salary Grade 15.

However, Joint Resolution No. 4 repealed all provisions of laws prescribing salary grades for government officials and employees other than those in the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989.

Under the Compensation and Position Classification Act of 1989, it set the SG level of government nurses at SG 10.

Following the said Joint Resolution, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Executive Order No. 811, which further modified the salary grade of entry level nurses from SG 10 to SG 11.

“Absent a new legislative measure, there is no basis to grant entry-level nurses Salary Grade 15. Therefore the government cannot be compelled by way of mandamus to grant the salary grade prayed for," Calida said.

Ang Nars Party-list, represented by lawyer Sharon Faith Paquiz, however argued that a joint resolution could not have repealed a law, “only a law can repeal another law.”

To which the solgen replied, “In the Philippine legislative milieu, as confirmed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives, there is no real difference between a bill and a joint resolution. Both are laws.”

Calida further argued that giving in to the nurses’ request would only lead to wage distortion in the government medical professionals.

He said, “Assigning SG 15 for the Nurse I position would lead to inequity and wage distortion in medical and allied positions, as well as other positions in the bureaucracy – a Nurse I would be higher or would be more compensated than a Medical Officer I (i.e., a government doctor) with SG 14.”

“All of these allied medical professionals work under essentially the same conditions, but would become differently situated in terms of salary if Section 32 of R.A. No. 9173 would be enforced,” Calida added.

The solicitor general went further to question the credibility of Ang Nars’ former representative who filed the petition, Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz, nothing she is is neither a nurse nor an incumbent legislator.

Calida asserted that following the doctrine of hierarchy of courts, the petition should have been filed in the lower courts first.

Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin ordered the parties to submit their memoranda in 20 days.

— Sally, The Summit Express

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