SENATOR Franklin M. Drilon passed responsibility for the pay increase for nurses and teachers which the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III vetoed during the 16th Congress when Drilon was Senate president.
In a statement on Tuesday, Drilon urged President Rodrigo Duterte to grant a P3,000 additional allowance to about 1.3 million civilian government employees, less than four months after Aquino vetoed the consolidated bill that would have hiked the salaries of nurses.
“I urge the President to extend his generosity that he has showered our uniformed men and women to our equally deserving and dedicated civilian personnel,” Drilon said.
“It is only timely and proper that we provide relief to civilian employees, whose purchasing power has eroded through the years, by way of an additional allowance of P3,000 per month,” Drilon said.
Drilon said civilian employees “are having a hard time to cope with the rising cost of living,” adding workers should get an additional allowance on top of the Personnel Economic Relief Allowance of P2,500 that is already required by law.
From September to December, Drilon estimated the budgetary requirement at approximately P15.73 billion, saying that “the amount can be sourced from the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefit Fund.”
Annually, it will only cost additional P47 billion in government coffers, which can be lodged under the MPBF or in the agencies’ respective budgets, Drilon added.
Drilon said that if the President grants this proposal, the Congress can include the amounts necessary for the grant of additional allowances to both the uniformed and civilian employees in the 2017 national budget.
But during the last Congress, Drilon and his Liberal Party co-members did nothing to overturn Aquino’s veto of the consolidated House Bill No. 6411 and Senate Bill No. 2720.
“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 when he vetoed the bill around two weeks before he stepped down from office.
The Philippine Nurses Association earllier lamented Aquino’s lack of empathy for government workers, particularly nurses who receive only P2,000 as monthly income.
“I wanted to cry, and I am angry at the same time. It’s very sad [because] it is supposed to be for the welfare of our nurses,” said Paulita Cruz, PNA president, said after Aquino vetoed the law.
Aquino said Executive Order No. 201 that increased the annual salary of nurses from P228,924 to P344,074 already dealt with this concern and that granting the bill would trigger “dire financial consequences” although it was already provided in the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002.
“President Aquino should have looked at the totality of the bill. It’s not just about the salary of the nurses,” Cruz said. “It’s a shame because we don’t have laws that will protect them.”