Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Solon presses for urgent probe on GSIS E-card anomaly

Office of Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran

Solon presses for urgent probe on GSIS E-card anomaly,
cites gov't employees' troubles last month as proof of more irregularities

Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran pressed for the urgent probe into suspected
anomalies related to the Government Service and Insurance System (GSIS)
E-card policy as the House Committee on Good Governance resumes its hearings
today, citing difficulties by government employees in using the electronic
card issued by the government agency as proof of more irregularities.

Beltran filed a House Resolution No. 299 on October 4, 2004, calling for a
House probe into the E-card policy. Rep. Beltran has eleven (11) resolutions
pending at the Committee, all calling for separate probes into various
anomalies related to the GSIS.

Government employees recently complained of the inconvenience of the E-card.
According to a report from the Philippine Daily Inquirer dated January 30,
hundreds of government employees in Sorsogon and Masbate were unable to use
their E-cards in January after the ATMs of Union Bank branches in Legazpi
City rejected the E-cards.

The employees also reported that the E-card also meant additional expenses
for them as they had to travel to Union Bank's branch in Legazpi City form
different parts of the province, and have had to wait for hours for the
processing of hundreds of transactions.

"This happened after the controversial E-card policy permitted the anomalous
transfer of GSIS funds from Land Bank of the Philippines to Union Bank,"
Beltran said.

"GSIS has no far evaded the question of why the funds were transferred to
Union Bank despite the fact that it has less system infrastructure that is
capable of giving government employees more convenient, economical, and
efficient access to their benefits. For example, Union Bank has only 112
branches nationwide while Land Bank has 350 branches. Also, UnionBank's 94
ATMs is only one-fourth (ΒΌ) of the number of Land Bank's ATMs (448 ATMs
nationwide)," he explained.

"Why GSIS President Winston Garcia proceeded with this policy despite its
obvious and logcial drawbacks has yet to be accounted for. System traffic
such as the one experienced by our government employees in Bicol could have
been prevented if not for this anomalous transfer," Beltran said.

"The complaints only point to the irregularities in Winston Garcia's
prejudicial handling of the GSIS funds, and should be subjected to an
immediate probe," Beltran said.

Beltran also stressed the need for urgent action on the E-card
inconveniences, saying that "it is the government rank-and-file employees
who suffer the most from these anomalous policies, because of the unjust

"The simultaneous withdrawals of cash from different ATMs, which created a
traffic of transactions, only indicate how many government employees are in
dire need of money to keep up with the price hikes and the rate increases
under the Arroyo administration. While Congress has approved a P1,000
allowance for government workers yesterday, it only amounts to P45.50 per
day and is not enough to meet the daily cost of living. A P3,000
across-the-board salary hike for public workers would do far much more to
alleviate the record-high poverty levels the country is facing," Beltran
said. ###


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