DAVAO CITY—The Kahugpungan sa mga Magtutudlo ug Kawani sa Edukasyon sa Mindanao – Alliance of Concerned Teachers (Kamkem-Act) Davao City and Act-Partylist recently led a teachers protest in front of the office of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) in Matina today.
The activity is part of the nationwide teachers’ protest action to denounce the oppressive policies of the GSIS and its President and general manager Winston Garcia. The teachers described him as being “incompetent” and “insensitive” to the plight of the country’s 1.5 million GSIS members.
Davao protesters carried large portraits of Garcia and President Gloria Arroyo, whom the protesters criticized for her continued support of the unpopular GSIS administrator. The protesters then concluded their protest by burning the images of Garcia and Arroyo.
“Our protest expressed the frustration and anger felt by public school teachers and employees all over the country towards the unjust policies and practices of the GSIS under Winston Garcia. Without a doubt, the GSIS is the most hated government office among the ranks of teachers and employees,” said Elenito Escalante, Kamkem-Act Davao Chairperson.
Escalante denounced what they refer to as the “criminally negligent record-keeping” of the GSIS. “At the root of members’ suffering is the GSIS’s failure to maintain accurate and up-to-date records of members’ accounts. As a financial institution, this is the prime responsibility of GSIS. GSIS record-keeping has resulted to hundreds of thousands of members complaining that they are being charged for loans that have already been paid or premiums that have already been deducted,” Escalante added.
The group also criticized Garcia’s introduction of the Claims and Loans Interdependency Program (Clip), a policy of automatic deduction of arrears from members’ benefits and receivables.
Act Teachers Partylist Mindanao coordinator and fifth nominee Mae Fe Ancheta-Templa said “this policy robs members of their right to due process. It’s the main instrument used by GSIS to make illegal deductions. It’s often the case that GSIS will deduct huge amounts from the benefits of members even though they owe nothing to the GSIS. In other words, it’s a legalized form of stealing”
The group estimates that the GSIS has made at least 2 billion pesos in illegal deductions from the benefits of public school teachers and non-teaching personnel of the Department of Education alone.
In its statement, Kamkem-Act and Act Teachers Partylist also called for the immediate refund of all deductions made by GSIS through Clip. They also reiterated the call for the ouster of Winston Garcia and challenged the presidential candidates running in the May 10 elections to install a new GSIS management that will institute genuine reforms in the state pension fund.
“Not a single presidential candidate has taken a stand on the GSIS. We challenge them to do so, for the sake of the millions of public school teachers and other government employees and their families,” said Ancheta-Templa.
Elenito Escalante – 0923-852-8506
Mae Fe Ancheta-Templa – 0917-6223069