Nurses launch campaign for salary hike, regular jobs

“We have the same calls since 1980s but the situation of nurses is still the same.”


MANILA – Nurses from the public and private sectors led by the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) launched April 8 a campaign for salary increase and jobs for unemployed nurses.

Dubbed as the Red Cap Movement, the nurses wore red caps to dramatize the urgency and determination of their appeal on the government “to give priority to the health care of the people, immediately address the shortage of regular nurses and other health workers in the public hospitals and public health institutions, and fully provide for their duly mandated salaries and benefits.”

Mila M. Llanes, PNA national president, said during a program at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) that nurses are loyal and faithful to the government but they are also calling on the government to give what is due to them.

Photo by A. Umil/
Photo by A. Umil/

“We have the same calls since 1980s but the situation of nurses is still the same,” Llanes said.

Llanes said the Nurses Act of 2002, which mandates P25,000 ($563) as the starting salary of nurses, has never been implemented while so much money was wasted in the government’s wrong priorities. She said the government could have allocated the money for plantilla positions for nurses.

Plantilla positions or items in the government sector refers to regular employees who receive government mandated benefits such as social security, housing, health, sick and vacation leaves.

According to the PNA, nurses in the public hospitals are handling patients three to four times higher than the Department of Health-prescribed 1:12 nurse to patient ratio. In spite of the chronic understaffing in public hospitals and public health institutions, 200,000 registered nurses are jobless, the PNA said.

Citing the data from the DOH, the PNA said there are 18,000 nurses employed by the government in 2005 and 9,000 nurses in the private sector. It has ballooned to 42,000 employed nurses (21,000 public and 21,000 private) by the end of 2014 without an increase in plantilla items in the government and main health centers where nurses are usually deployed or any substantial increase in bed capacities in hospitals.

Data from the National League of Government Nurses show that nurses in plantilla positions are about 17,000.

Jossel Ebesate, chairman of the PNA’s Department of Nurses Welfare and also chief nurse at the PGH, finds the DOH data “dubious.”

“What is the basis of hiring new nurses without increase in plantilla items and bed capacities in hospitals? Even if the government claims that there are 12,500 nurses in the Nurses Deployment Program, their data is still not tallying,” Ebesate said.

Nurses in red cap symbolize their protest against low wages and dire working condition. (Photo by A.Umil/
Nurses in red cap symbolize their protest against low wages and dire working condition. (Photo by A.Umil/

The Nurse Deployment Program is formerly called Registered Nurses for Health Enhancement and Local Service or RN Heals. Those who have landed a job in public and private hospitals are suffering from low salaries.

There are also 300,000 registered nurses who work in other fields like business processing outsourcing. Llanes also said that if understaffing will be addressed, all Filipinos will be taken cared of. Most of all, Filipino nurses don’t have to leave the country to work abroad.

“Of course, we acknowledge that the remittances help the economy. But it is not also fair for the families that are left behind,” she said in an interview with

The group plans to hold a series of year-round activities to amplify their campaign. They will also carry this issue on the International Nurses Day on May 12. Llanes urged President Benigno S. Aquino III to address their concerns.

“The President has to do something before his term ends. He has to take care of his bosses and at the same he should also take care of the ‘carers’ of his bosses.” (

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  1. Why are these professionals are asking for less value than they are worth? Why are they asking decent wages from an entity that have no responsibility towards them. Why are you asking for a minimum if you believe you are worth more than minimum. Have pride on yourselves.. stop begging from stupid entities like government or corporations. If you have spent more than 100K toward your education it’s your fault. Government or corporations did not forced you to go nursing? Now that you are an able and qualified to take care of sick patients why are you asking for dumb entities like government, they are just as useless.
    Start harnessing your expensive profession through innovation such as networking together to create a virtual hospital by posting your cellphones and credentials to your communities. And perform home services. Stop relying on big hospitals with so many stinking rooms and so many patients. Offer your profession on a cash basis on home calls instead of driving to stinking emergency which doesn’t take care of patients anyway. Be creative

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