NURSES working in government-run hospitals are entitled to a grade 15 monthly salary as provided by the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002 (RA 9173), the Supreme Court en banc has ruled.
SC justices during their en banc session on Tuesday ruled to uphold the legality of section 21 of RA 9173, which mandates that “the minimum base pay of nurses working in public health institutions shall not be lower than salary grade 15.”
The Ang Nars party-list group has questioned before the high court the validity of former president Gloria Arroyo’s Executive Order 811 issued in 2009 which set the entry salary of government workers to grades 10 to 11.
Arroyo signed EO 811 by virtue of Joint Resolution No. 4 issued by Congress which authorized Arroyo to modify the compensation and position classification system of civilian personnel and the base pay schedule of uniformed personnel in the government.
Civilian and military employees under Salary Grades 10 to 11 earn P22,055 per month, while those under Salary Grade 15 earn as P31,545 to as high as P33,279 a month.
In ruling in favor of the petitioner, the SC said that “Joint Resolution No. 4, being a mere resolution, cannot amend or repeal a prior law such as RA 9173 or the Philippine Nursing
Act. The same applies to EO 811 which is also not a law, but an executive directive.”
But despite the favorable ruling, the SC said it cannot force the government to implement the salary hike without a separate law providing the necessary appropriation for the additional pay.
“However, the Court did not grant the prayer of the petitioners to compel the implementation of Sec. 32 of RA 9173 since its implementation would necessarily require a law passed by Congress providing the necessary funds for it,” said the SC decision penned by Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
During the oral arguments on the petition last year, Solicitor General Jose Calida said section 31 of RA 9173 was “specifically repealed by Joint Resolution No.4 and as such the government cannot be compelled by way of mandamus to grant the petition.”
Calida had likewise chided petitioners for going directly to the Supreme Court, arguing that they violated the doctrine of hierarchy of courts since they should have first sought redress first from the lower courts or the Court of Appeals before elevating the case to the high court.