By Pet Melliza
Pensioner Neonita Gobuyan has nothing but only curses for the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). The meager pension she gets as retired regional bureau chief of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) reached her not only rarely and far in between. GSIS still imposes on her burdens tantamount to crossing seven seas and seven mountains before she gets her own benefits.
Last Tuesday, March 15, at the canteen of the Iloilo Provincial Capitol, while she was waiting for media colleagues to go to Hotel Del Rio, assembly point for Iloilo journalists on their way to inaugurate the Iloilo Press Club Subdivision at San Jose, San Miguel, Iloilo, she handed me a photo-copy of the editorial of the Philippines Daily Inquirer.
And she was very, very mad at all the members of the GSIS directorate including Raymundo Lapating, superintendent of the Iloilo DepEd division who happens to be one of them.
“Kami diri iya nga mga pensioner naga-igud-igud pero ang mga myembro sg board of directors ‘ya nagapinagusto lang,” fumed Gobuyan, “Mommy Nitz” to most of us media practitioners in Iloilo. “Upod na nila si (Superintendent Raymundo) Lapating.” (We pensioners have to carry the burden while the GSIS officials including Lapating are rewarding themselves scandalous privileges.”)
I have never heard Mommy Nitz cursed and to a fellow government functionary at that. In her stint as PNA bureau chief, she prefers to write the positive and
developmental sides of events. When she sensed something irregular in government service, she would rather not talk about it.
This time around though, she has become an activist, incensed at official abuse and having found the courage of spending her own resources reproducing opinion pieces and distributing them herself.
The GSIS supposedly has been established to provide members, all government employees and retirees, “security” in their times of needs, especially, old age.
That mandate though has been diluted by its top brass who equate “social
security” to the license to help themselves to its funds.
The worst, at least on record, occurred in the inglorious reign of one named
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. In 2009, according to the PDI editorial that Mommy Nitz is distributing, the “GSIS directors first allotted a huge amount of money for their compensation package and then declared the selfsame package confidential, effectively obscuring their greed from public view.”
And Lapating is part of them, ironically, proving himself aptly fit to be tagged
“mis-educator”. He heads Iloilo’s premier government entity tasked to educate
the young but he has joined the pack notorious for thievery and other acts we
thought only the misguided and mis-educated are capable of doing.
The PDI editorial reads that for 2009, each GSIS director got P11 million in
compensation package or a total of P88 million for the whole board. On top of
that, each still received 13th and 15th-month pays, mid-year bonus, productivity and incentive benefits equivalent to four months wages, and a share in the Provident Fund. On top of the P11 million compensation package, each director still received up to P2.6 million in different kinds of incentives and bonuses.
While members groan in hardship, GSIS directors shamelessly splurged money on non-social security gambits like P137.471 million for PR and P25 million on
avian flu medicine for its employees.
GSIS directors spiked their callousness during the inglorious reign of the woman named Gloria who named the man called Winston Garcia to head the GSIS whose truncated intelligence succeeded in leading the institution down the morass.
It was Winston Garcia who applied for a P11-million GSIS loan in the morning and got the same in the afternoon, to the consternation of lowly pensioners who for months were given run around rectifying overpayment of loans.
P-Noy issued EO 24 to put a cap on the amount of monies that GSIS directors
could award themselves with and the GSIS employees whose emoluments are more than double received by their counterparts in other government offices.
EO 24 came too late and is insufficient to limit the greed of GSIS apparatchniks who justified their voluminous benefits by reinterpreting the GSIS charter in utter disregard of “existing laws, rules and regulations” according to the COA.
To Mommy Nitz, hindi ka nag-iisa.