By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon called on the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to use the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF) to pay the salary differentials of nurses in public hospitals in the country affected by the DBM circular that effectively demoted Nurse II to Nurse VII positions.
The said DBM circular was corrected by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea but the salary differential of affected nurses have yet to be paid.
“I urge President Duterte to direct the DBM to fund the nurses’ backpay out of MPBF which is designed for such needs,” Drilon said.
“The nation is forever grateful for the bravery and selfless act of our medical frontliners, most especially our nurses in crowded government hospitals, who lead the fight against COVID-19 every single day,” Drilon said.
“Now that they need us, are we going to let them down?” he added.
“Malaking bagay po ito para sa ating mga frontline nurses. Ibigay na po natin. Huwag na po natin ipitin yung sahod nila. Huwag na nating pahirapan pa,” Drilon appealed to DBM.
MPBF has an appropriation of P56.6 billion in 2020 and P29.3 billion in 2021.
But Drilon said that based on average utilization rate from the past five years, it is projected that MPBF has unutilized balances in the amount of P18.4 B for 2020 and around P9.5B for 2021.
Drilon said that historically, the MPBF is not fully utilized and is declared savings by the end of the year. On average, the utilization rate for the MPBF between 2017 to 2019 is only 67.48 percent, he added.
“Let’s use the MPBF to pay the salary differential of our nurses. They risk their lives each day attending to the growing number of COVID-19 cases. What the DBM did is injustice to our frontline health workers,” Drilon stressed.
The nurses at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) alone, 823 nurses holding Nurse II positions are awaiting their salary differential, he noted, citing the data of the PGH Nurses Association.
According to the group, P43 million is needed to cover the backpay of 823 Nurse II positions at the PGH. The amount does not include Nurse III to Nurse VII positions who are also entitled to back wages.
“This is a small amount compared to their contributions to the fight against COVID-19. This is peanuts compared to billions of pesos that is lost to corruption each year. This is nothing compared to the P16.4 billion released to NTF-ELCAC,” Drilon said.
Nurse III has a monthly salary of about P38,000 (SG 17); Nurse IV, P46,000 (SG 19); Nurse V, P52,000 (SG 20); Nurse VI, P66,000 (SG 22); and Nurse VII, P85,000 (SG 24). (AI/MTVN)