I CANNOT understand why many people are complaining about the delay in the release of their benefits. In a high tech age, it is difficult to understand why claims could go on without being adjudicated for months. It would have been all right if these were in the 1950s, when offices of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) were still in the Manila’s Port Area. But even then, loans and claims did not go beyond two months, if at all there was any delay.

I should know. Both my parents were public school teachers, and members of GSIS. My studies and those of my brother Nerius in UP Diliman and in the College of Agriculture in Los Baños, were partly financed from GSIS loans. Their salaries then of P100 a month were hardly enough for our board and lodging. So, we subsisted on UP student loan fund, and GSIS. I know only too well the tedious task of following up papers from desk to desk, and waiting for the processing to be over.

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Eventually, I developed friends and contacts in the loan division, and the red tape and anxiety of waiting diminished. When my father retired, we received his retirement benefits and paid all our debts in school. Today, I wonder whether the same could be done with a highly “modernized” operation. When I was already working with the Manila Times in the early 1960s, I maintained my contact with the GSIS and helped a lot of school teachers solve their GSIS woes.

Until their death many years later after retirement, the teachers did not have any problem with their retirement benefits. Which is why I was surprised when a number of retirees and beneficiaries from Balamban showed up in our house requesting assistance for the release of their benefits.

One of them is Herminia Tabayag Mapa, whose husband, an employee of the Bureau of Posts, died many months ago. I recommended Fredo Mapa to the bureau during the stint of Rene Espina as communications secretary. His widow told me she has not received Fredo’s death benefits as of yesterday, She said she was told his papers had been misplaced, and hence, they could not be processed.

Another Bureau of Post retiree, Dodo Lavarez Flor, came to me just a few days ago asking for help, but he retired only last November and has not received his benefits four months after. Still another case is that of Raul Yntig, who had requested for re-computation of his retirement benefit in May, 2009. He received a reply in October 2009 informing him that GSIS was in the process of upgrading its system and hardware, hence there had been a slowdown in its processing.

I wonder how many pensioners are biting their nails at the moment, waiting for their GSIS checks.