Trouble brewing at GSIS

It is public knowledge that the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) was created as a social insurance institution designed to promote and safeguard the interest and welfare of State workers.

Toward this end, the GSIS in exchange for the monthly premium contributions of its members is mandated to provide security benefits such as compulsory life insurance, optional life insurance, retirement benefits, and disability benefits for work-related accidents and death benefits.

Moreover, active GSIS members are likewise entitled to loan privileges, namely: salary, policy, emergency and housing loans.

Given this mandate, the law provides that the government work-force should have representation in the GSIS Board of Trustees, a governing and policy-making body whose members are appointed no less by the President of the Philippines.

In keeping with this principle, Republic Act No. 4847 was enacted into law in the 1960s authorizing three (3) leading government employees organizations to be represented in the GSIS Board of Trustees.

Specifically, the three leading government employees organizations authorized to nominate representatives to the GSIS Board are the Confederation of Government Employees Organizations (COGEO), the Philippine Government Association (PGEA) and the Philippine Public School Teachers Association (PPSTA).

Recently, however, this practice – which by now is a tradition backed up by law — has been beclouded with the appointment of a new member of the GSIS Board handpicked outside the ranks of the aforesaid three leading government employees organizations.

COGEO, in response to this unexpected development, issued a resolution urging President Benigno C. Aquino III to reconsider the appointment of a certain Mario Aguja to the GSIS Board of Trustees.

An excerpt of the resolution, states: “Whereas, the Federation of Government Schools Employees of the Philippines represented by Mr. Aguja cannot be classified as a leading government employees organization within the contemplation of Section 42 of RA 8291, as it is represents only one classification of government employees: government school employees.”

Typical of the so-called “leading government organization” is COGEO which serves as the umbrella organization of close to 100 government associations such as the Malacanang Employees Association (MESLA), Employees Association of the Department of National Defense, Department of Justice, Department of Science and Technology, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, NEDA, Treasurers Association of the Philippines, etc.

Even the GSIS Office of the Corporate Secretary has classified the COGEO as a leading government organization cutting across a wide section of various public sector offices.

Copies of the said resolution, I understand, have already been forwarded to both houses of Congress.

Perhaps this is a good development because our lawmakers could revisit laws pertaining to the promotion of the welfare of our government workers.

Leaders and members of the three leading government employees organizations felt that their mandate to represent state workers in the GSIS Board of Trustees has been “railroaded” with the appointment of an “outsider.”

Obviously, there are now undercurrents of discontent in the ranks of big government employee organizations which, if allowed to persist and left unresolved, could result into a weakened bureaucracy.  Raul Valino

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