Thursday, September 30, 2004

NR0930: PGMA fears Garcia

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin B. Beltran
News Release September 30, 2004
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, chief of staff
Celphone number 09213907362

Who's afraid of Winston Garcia? PGMA's refusal to kick out Garcia from GSIS
indicates that he has power over her . Rep. Beltran

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo's refusal to relieve Winston Garcia as president and general
manager of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS)clearly indicates that
Garcia actually has power over the country's head executive. He said that Pres.
Arroyo is deliberately avoiding the scandalous controversies hounding Garcia
and that she is loathe to let him go because Garcia just might say reveal
something damning against President.

"Garcia wields powers unknown to many - even Pres. Arroyo is afraid of him.
Despite the countless and undeniable proof of Garcia's corruption and anomalous
administration of the GSIS, Pres. Arroyo continues to retain him not so much
because she believes that Garcia is the man for the job, but most likely
because she fears him. Garcia is keeping secrets that involve President Arroyo
- secrets that if and when revealed, could be grounds for Pres. Arroyo's
impeachment. Pres. Arroyo knows that she is walking on thin ice when it comes
to the GSIS/Garcia issue. At this point, issues concerning Garcia are Pres.
Arroyo's weakest and most vulnerable spots," he said.

Garcia maintains faux bravery in the face of the avalanche of corruption and
office mismanagement and other executive abuses because he knows he holds PGMA

Today, Sept.30, the GSIS funds will be transferred completely to the UnionBank
which ranks 16th based on the total assets of commercial banks, compared to the
LandBank - a government bank, which ranks 3rd among commercial banks in terms
of Total Assets (2nd quarter 2004). UnionBank has only 115 branches nationwide
as opposed to Land Bank's 350 branches (BSP reports, 2nd quarter 2004).
UnionBank has only 94 ATM outlets nationwide as opposed to Land Bank's 448 ATM

The veteran labor leader turned lawmaker said that government employees and
pensioners will go up in arms against the fund transfer and the
implementation of the E-card system.

Beltran said that the GSIS is mandated to serve its members through an efficient
and timely method of access to the benefits, but this cannot be done with the
electronic card (eCard) system. The ecard is being promoted to l serve as an
Identification (ID), an ATM, an electronic cash card through which all benefit
payments shall be paid and disbursed by the GSIS; but, Beltran said, its actual
use will be very limited given the limits of the Unionbank.

"GSIS members in the Visayas and Mindanao as well as the provinces in Luzon
where there are no Unionbank branches will not be able to use the ecard. What
- are they suppose to forego their benefits now?. And given the questionable
policies and the irregularities of the GSIS, dare beneficiaries and government
employees further entrust their money to the GSIS under Winston Garcia?"

Beltran also said that the ecard system violates the statute that the GSIS has
an exempt status from tax, legal process and lien as provided in Section 39 of
RA 8291.

"…contribution rates necessary to sustain the benefits under this Act shall be
kept as low as possible in order not to burden the members of the GSIS and
their employers. Taxes imposed on the GSIS tend to impair the actuarial
solvency of its funds and increase the contribution rate necessary to sustain
the benefits of this Act. Accordingly, notwithstanding any laws to the
contrary, the GSIS, its assets, revenues including all accruals thereto, and
benefits paid, shall be exempt from all taxes, assessments, fees, charges, or
duties of all kinds."

There are also aspects of the ecard system that go against with the provisions
of the Bank Secrecy Law (RA 1045, as amended), the Foreign Currency Deposit Act
(RA 6426, as amended), the General Banking Law of 2000 (RA 8791), and the
Anti-Money Laundering Act (RA 9160, as amended by RA 9194).

Finally, Beltran said that the agency and Malacanang itself have miserably
failed to address addressed the massive chaos that has erupted in the agency,
or meet and settle the complaints of hundreds of thousands of government
employees all over the country.

"All charges against Garcia should also be laid at the feet of Pres. Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo who appointed him and continues to support his administration
in the GSIS. It's impossible that the president is oblivious to the charges
leveled against her favorite. She is protecting him for a reason, and this
must also be exposed," he concluded#


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