Tuesday, September 28, 2004

NR0927: Pension fund owners vs Garcia

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin B. Beltran
News Release September 27, 2004
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, chief of staff
Email: paggawa@edsamail.com.ph, anakpawis2003@yahoo.com
Celphone number 09213907362
Visit geocities.com/ap_news

Rep. Beltran leads filing of Malversation, Oppression charges vs GSIS'
Garcia at Ombudsman's Office; files HR 286 in Congress


Today, September 27, 2004, Monday at 10:00 am, pension fund owners represented
by COURAGE, officials of the GSIS union (KMG) and Anakpawis Representative
Crispin Beltran filed a case against Government Service Insurance System (GSIS)
President and General Manager Winston Garcia at the Ombudsman's Office, located
at Agham Road, Diliman, Quezon City. Today, he also filed HR 286 calling for
investigations into the unfair labor policies Garcia implements against GSIS
union members.

Beltran challenged Garcia to face the countless accusations against him and not
hide behind his main patron and protector Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He
said that Garcia maintains faux bravery in the face of the avalanche of
corruption and office mismanagement and other executive abuses because he knows
he is PGMA' s favorite. He said that apart from mismanaging the GSIS and
swindling millions of government employees of their rightful benefits, Garcia
is also a notorious violator of employee rights.

"Garcia is tyrannical and despotic in running the GSIS. Under him, the employees
of GSIS have been subjected to various political indignities and their economic
welfare severely undermined. Garcia has reportedly released a board resolution
cutting the salaries of rank-and-file employees by 10% to supposedly contribute
to the national government's efforts to stem the fiscal crisis," Beltran said.

"Garcia has made the lives of GSIS employees actively denouncing his
mismanagement of the agency unbearable by slapping various administrative
charges against them, and barring them from entering the agency premises," he
said.

Beltran said that so far, none of the charges and complaints filed against
Garcia at the Office of the Ombudsman and the Civil Service Commission (CSC)
have prospered or even just given a formal hearing because Garcia enjoys the
protection of Malacanang itself. He said that Garcia continues to abuse his
authority at the GSIS and his transgressions worsen because Malacanang gives
him leeway.

"I am willing to meet Garcia head on, even in court. Garcia has thrown his
weight around for too long, and the pile-up of casualties resulting from his
abusive management style and corrupt administration of the funds has hit the
roof: millions of government employees and beneficiaries are loudly demanding
his ouster from the GSIS," he said. Beltran said that he will file corruption
and abuse of authority charges against Garcia at the Ombudsman's and the
Civil Service Commission apart from pushing for congressional investigations.

Last Sept.24, leaders of COURAGE, KMG and Rep. Beltran were harassed by
truncheon-wielding officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and
security personnel of the GSIS and barred from entering the GSIS building in
Quezon City. Velasco who was earlier illegally dropped from the roll by Garcia
on flimsy charges was granted a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) from the
Court of Appeals, which Garcia blatantly defied. Velasco has been active and
vocal in his opposition and condemnation of Garcia's administration and
mismanagement of the GSIS.

"While the most vocal critic among the employees of the GSIS were slapped with
administrative cases, suspensions and dismissals, he promoted to managerial
positions few employees who are neither fully qualified nor credible; and
manipulates employees to publicly make it appear that the GSIS employees are
still supporting him.

Beltran said that there are also are documented cases wherein Garcia has
attempted to bust the union. On June 25, 2004, Garcia issued Order No.
64-04-A, appointing the Secretary General of the KMG as the union's
representative to the GSIS Personnel Selection/Promotion Board for the first
and second levels. This implies that the union representatives is either the
President of the KMG or his duly authorized representative. The oath-taking of
the new officers of the KMG was supposed to take place on June 30, but a
Memorandum from the Sr. Vice-President for Field Operations was issued,
canceling all travel authorities for officers of the union from the branches
who were scheduled to attend the activities. On the same day, a memo was also
issued prohibiting employees from participating in any union activities during
office hours. This was a clear violation of the union's collective negotiating
agreement (CNA);

On the first day of office of the KMG president Velasco, he was issued a
memorandum stating that he was being assigned to the GSIS branch offices of
Zamboana, Iligan and Cotabato City;

Since 2001, GSIS employees joined by employees from other government agencies
have been denouncing the various anomalies in the GSIS. Apart from countless
documented anomalies directly involving Garcia, they cite a performance
evaluation made by former Finance Secretary Isidro Camacho who reported to
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo herself that Garcia is inefficient and has
mismanaged the funds of the GSIS. It has been reported that among the reasons
behind Camacho's resignation is his disgust over Malacanang's decision to
ignore his findings regarding Garcia and his way of running the GSIS.

Beltran also said that the GSIS is now in the process of closing a deal with
the Department of Foreign Affairs for a Php50 billion loan for the purchase of
lands abroad for the agency's embassies. Earlier, a Php1 billion agreement with
Union bank was sealed in May for an "E-card" project that is set to fail anew
given the resistance of the members especially the retirees and pensioners who
have difficulty using automatic teller machine (ATM) cards. The deal is also
being questioned by COURAGE and allied people's organizations not only because
Union bank is owned by Aboitiz Group which has business linkages with Garcia;
but also because money from trust funds such as those of the GSIS as stated by
law should be placed only in government depository banks such as the Land bank
and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

"Garcia has defended his leadership of the government employees' fund by saying
that it was during his term that the financial institution posted billions of
income. COURAGE however, belied this assertion, saying that hundreds of
thousands of GSIS members will attest that it was under Garcia, the GSIS'
service to its main clients has severely deteriorated, and that that the agency
is now on the brink of bankruptcy; This Garcia admitted publicly that the agency
may run short of fund by 2005," he explained further.

"The reason behind the supposed income was that the premium contributions of
GSIS' 1.5 million members were increased several times while the benefits were
reduced. Garcia instituted policies that made the security of loans and claims
from the GSIS more inaccessible to the beneficiaries.

"Garcia's more than half a million monthly salary and other millions of benefits
including his unliquidated cash advances is enough reason for him not to give up
his post, at the expense of the fund members who deserve better services and
bigger package of benefits; Moreover, salaries of GSIS rank and file employees
were reportedly cut by as much as 10%."

Finally, Beltran said that given Garcia's record as GSIS PGM, he should have
long been removed from the GSIS as charges against him mounts; But the fact
that he remains in office is highly questionable. There is no credible check
and balance system in the GSIS because other GSIS officials and the members of
the GSIS board of trustees is composed mainly of individuals directly connected
to him and Malacanang. Together, they have been running GSIS like their own
kingdom, living lavish lifestyles at the expense of the fund beneficiaries.
Those among the rank and file employees who are brave enough to oppose their
edicts are slapped with administrative charges or summarily, arbitrarily
dismissed," he concluded.#

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