MANILA (Mabuhay) – President Benigno Aquino III has vetoed a proposed law that seeks to improve the nursing profession, including raising the minimum monthly salary of nurses to almost P25,000, Malacañang said Thursday.
In a statement, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the President has rejected the enrolled consolidated House Bill No. 6411 and Senate Bill No. 2720 entitled “An Act Providing for a Comprehensive Nursing Law Towards Quality Health Care System, and Appropriating Funds Therefor.”
The minimum base pay for entry-level nurses has already been increased through Executive Order No. 201, series of 2016, which raised their total guaranteed annual compensation from P228,924.00 to P344,074.00, Aquino noted in his veto message.
The compensation was apart from other benefits and allowances they receive under the Magna Carta of Public Health, he added.
“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.
Aquino explained that granting the said 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 government,” 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.
The proposed law, Aquino pointed out, would also affect the financial viability of private hospitals and nongovernment health institutions, and could cause “unintended repercussions, such as possible downsizing of hospital personnel and consequent increase in health care costs.”
Aquino’s veto message has been transmitted to both House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Senate President Franklin Drilon.
The Aquino administration ends its six-year term on June 30, paving the way for the incoming leadership of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte