A GROUP welcomed former Negros Occidental governor Daniel Lacson as chairman of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) while pushing for the replacement of the agency’s President and General Manager Winston Garcia.

“We commend President Noynoy Aquino for appointing former Negros Occidental Governor Daniel Lacson as the GSIS Chairman,” said Benjo Basas, chairman of the Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC).

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

He added that the appointment could herald the start of the reforms in the state pension fund that has long been a subject of ire of government employees and public school teachers.

Basas said Lacson’s appointment is the “single most important proof” of Aquino’s sincerity for the teachers sector which constituted the largest membership share and contribution to the GSIS.

“We laud President Aquino’s statement that the GSIS should serve its members and that the reason for appointing Lacson is to find answers to the queries of teachers about their pension and other services.”

But the TDC said that while they hail the move, the President must immediately find a replacement for Garcia and all the member of the pension fund board.

“The whole GSIS Board should be replaced. All of the board members are accountable for the implementation of the unjust policies of the GSIS that made us suffer,” Basas pointed out.

The 500,000-strong teaching and non-teaching personnel of Department of Education (DepEd) constitutes about a third of the total GSIS membership.

Teachers alone accounted for P375 million monthly contributions or P4.5 billion annually to the state-managed pension fund.

Another teachers group, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said Lacson should recall Garcia’s “unjust policies.”

“The chairman must immediately recall the unjust and illegal policies and practices implemented by Garcia that have unfairly burdened teachers,” reiterated ACT national president Antonio Tinio.

He said among these policies that teachers would like to be recalled were the “negligent record-keeping, premium –based policy and the automatic deduction of arrears.”

Garcia stands accused of mismanaging GSIS, but has managed to head off clamor for his ouster throughout the administration of then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. (AH/Sunnex)