Filipino nurses, med techs lowest paid in Southeast Asia

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 4) – Filipino nurses and medical technologists receive the lowest salary in the Southeast Asian region, a study revealed.

Data aggregator iPrice Group made the research after recording the salaries of mid-level frontliners in six Southeast Asian countries via Economic Research Institute-powered company, Salary Expert.

The research revealed that experienced Filipino registered nurses only earn around ₱40,381 per month. This is 57 percent less than the next lowest paid registered nurses in Vietnam at approximately ₱63,200 per month.

On the other hand, Filipino medical technologists have an average monthly salary of more or less ₱29,444. This amount is 51 percent less than the lower paid medical technologists in Vietnam who receive around ₱57,000 per month.

Singaporean nurses and medical technologists are the highest paid according to the study, earning an average of ₱236,000 and ₱210,000 a month respectively.

In his press briefing on Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque admitted he had not seen the study yet. But he reiterated the national government’s commitment to protect the welfare of nurses and other health workers, who are at the forefront of the country’s battle against COVID-19.

“What we did through the Bayanihan 2 is we gave an additional hazard allowance to our frontliners. We also provided them with free lodging, life insurance, and tests,” Roque assured.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Wednesday medical frontliners who will contract mild or moderate COVID-19 symptoms will receive ₱15,000 from the government once the "Bayanihan 2" or Bayanihan to Recover as One Bill is signed into law. Under "Bayanihan 1" or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Law, only those who died from the disease or became critically ill received cash benefits.

Vergeire added the financial assistance for those who have severe COVID-19 cases will remain at ₱100,000. Around ₱1 million will be given to the kin of the frontliner who died of the viral disease.

Based on the Department of Budget and Management’s Memorandum Circular 2020-4 released last July, the entry-level pay for a government nurse or Nurse 1 was increased to ₱32,053, equivalent to Salary Grade 15 under the Salary Standardization Law. The previous minimum salary for entry-level government nurses was only at Salary Grade 11 or equivalent to ₱22,316.

The Palace also hopes that private sector nurses be well compensated.

“Now that many nurses want to leave the country, we hope that private hospitals will provide them a higher salary so that our nurses will be enticed to stay here in the Philippines,” Roque added.

In a resolution issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Managing Emerging Infectious Diseases on August 20, the government has allowed those who have secured contracts and overseas employment certificates before March 8 to leave the country for work. The order was made after concerned sectors reacted on the IATF-MEID’s resolution on August 17 which suspended the overseas deployment of all medical and allied health workers, without any exemptions.

Other Filipino frontliners the lowest paid in Southeast Asia

The iPrice Group research also noted that four other pandemic frontliner groups in the Philippines earned the lowest among their Southeast Asian peers.

Delivery truck driver helpers in the country earn approximately ₱23,300 per month, while supermarket stock clerks have an average monthly salary of ₱13,300.

Also included in the study are Filipino security guards who earned around ₱15,400 per month and warehouse workers who receive a monthly salary of more or less ₱14,500.

Singapore also paid the highest salaries to these four frontliner groups according to the study. Other nations included in the report are Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.