Probe GSIS first, Congress told

A TEACHERS’ group yesterday called on lawmakers to prioritize the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) when they start investigating the alleged excessive salaries and allowances of the executives of government-owned and -controlled corporations.

“We welcome the Congress’s moves to look into the scandalously exorbitant salaries and allowances of certain government officials, but they should begin with the GSIS,” said France Castro, secretary-general of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT).

Castro said “Congress should start their investigation with the salaries and allowances of GSIS executives, specially those who have served under (former president and general manager Winston) Garcia.”

“In 2001, the late Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Crispin Beltran exposed the excessive salaries and allowances of Garcia’s GSIS executives, including Garcia himself, based on a 2001 report of the Commission on Audit,” she said.

According to a COA report in 2001, top officials of GSIS received as much as P724,000 ($14,145) in Christmas bonuses, apart from the already large salaries they receive monthly.

The report also revealed that GSIS president, with a salary grade of 31, receives monthly pay of P564,869.55 ($11,035.84), which includes a basic salary of P356,979 ($6,974).

The lowest-paid GSIS employee with a salary grade of 3 gets a monthly take-home pay of P27,021.50 ($527.92), including his basic salary of P14,670 ($286.61).

“It is puzzling, and a reason to be alarmed, that more recent COA reports does not include the GSIS. It seems that the the government financial institution has not been very transparent to the public,” Castro said.

Castro expressed that this is more reason for the GSIS, and its executives, to be investigated. “When teachers and government employees fail to submit necessary reports to the GSIS, whether financial or otherwise, they are penalized. Why not the GSIS?” she said.

The ACT official said GSIS has been a bane for teachers and other government employees, particularly its illegal and exploitative policies such as the Claims and Loans Interdependency Policy (CLIP) and the Premium Based Policy.

“If our Congress is sincere in investigating excesses in the government service, they should begin looking into the government institution which greatly afflict the teachers and government employees, the GSIS,” Castro concluded. D’Jay Lazaro

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