By QUIMBERLYN RANCHEZ
BAGUIO CITY — The Philippine Nurses Association of Cordillera Administrative Region (PNA-CAR), and other health workers groups in Cordillera, conducted a unity walk to support the Duterte administration’s plan to end contractualization, July 3, 2016.
They marched to put emphasis on the need of change because of the poor working conditions the government nurses are working in; like the alarming crisis of contractualization which heightened during the Aquino administration.
According to Ruth Thelma Tingda of PNA-CAR, some nurses in the rural areas suffer from overworking, due to lack of employed health workers in their areas.
However, Tingda said that instead of opening job opportunities for nurses in rural areas, the government answered it with contractualization. She explained that the government’s reason for contratualization is because of the low budget allotted for the health sector and due to the privatization of hospitals.
Tingda also explained that contractualization does not assure the nurses security of tenure nor a livable salary and other worker’s benefits. Contractualizations make the nursed defenseless against lay-off or deserved promotions.
“Contractualization is a form of discrimination against nurses, lowers their self-esteem,” she added.
The unjust salary of the nurses and health workers during the past regime was also highlighted during the unity march. According to Tingda, contractual nurses in Cordillera get a salary ranging from only ₱450-500 a day, and ₱6,000- 7,000 for some private hospital nurses.
Moreover, Marc Mendiola, coordinator of Alliance of Health Workers Metro Baguio (AHW Metro-Baguio), said that the nurses’ wage should be increased to at least ₱25,000 or equivalent to salary grade 15 as provided by Republic Act 9173 or the Nursing Act of 2002.
However, former President Aquino’s Executive Order No. 201 only provided that amount for those in salary grade 11. In addition, Aquino also vetoed the nurse’s wage hike last June 16 before the end of his term.
“Pinakita niya lang yung tunay niya na kulay. Hindi kasi naniniwala sa mga nurses si PNoy; mas naniniwala siya sa kapartido niya na presidente ng Association of Hospitals kaya siyempre i-veveto niya yung wage hike natin dahil kapartido na niya yung nagreklamo,” [PNoy showed his true color. He doesn’t believe in nurses; he favored his partymate, that’s why he vetoed our wage hike,]” Mrs. Erlinda Palaganas, a registered nurse and a professor of University of the Philippines Baguio, reacted.
Call for unity
Due to the worsened situation of the nurses and health workers, Palaganas challenged the new administration for additional health budget in accordance to World Health Organization’s guideline which is that 5% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product must be alloted to the health budget.
She also called for more job opportunities, wage hike and support to the new administration’s promise to end contractualization.
“Change is coming, change has come. We hope that our new president can fulfill his promises as we support his administration,” Tingda of PNA Cordillera stated.
Palaganas also challenged the nurses and health workers to unite and to take an active role in the advancement of their rights and welfare. “Nasa pagsama-samang pagkikilos natin ang pagbabago,” [Change is in our collective action,] she said as she encouraged her co-health workers to participate in their fight for their rights by doing simple things such as submitting position papers or statements regarding their situations.
Furthermore, Mendiola of AHW Metro Baguio added that ending contractualization and improving the nurses’ situation would not only benefit the health workers but also the welfare of the patients. # nordis.net