EDUCATION Secretary Armin Luistro promised teachers of his full support to resolve their problems with the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) from “negligent record-keeping to the automatic deduction of arrears” policy.

Luistro made the assurance when he met with teachers from various parts of Metro Manila who belonged to the Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC), one of the many organizations calling for reforms at the state-managed pension fund.

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“Nakakasiguro kayo na kasama nyo ako sa isyung ito. Makikiag-usap kami sa GSIS dahil marami talaga itong mga problema ninyo sa kanila,” Luistro said.

Luistro already tasked DepEd Undersecretary for Finance Francis Varela to resolve the issue and work with the teachers and non-teaching staff of the department as well as with the GSIS in “reconciling” the records and data which has been one of the complaints of government employees.

“Patuloy ang pag-aayos ng mga records between the two agencies. Makakaasa kayo na magkasama tayo sa usaping ito,” he added.

The 500,000-strong teaching and non-teaching personnel of 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.

TDC national chair Benjo Basas said they find it hard to accept that despite the much-vaunted computerization program of GSIS, they still encounter negligent record keeping, making it harder for teachers especially from the provinces to do their business with the pension fund.

“Napakaraming problema at paglabag sa polisiya ang GSIS lalo na sa pamumuno ni Winston Garcia at bakit kaming mga guro ang palaging biktima dito samantalang kami ang pinakamalaking bahagi ng nagbibigay ng mon thly contributions sa GSIS,” said Basas, a public school teacher in Caloocan.

The GSIS has blamed this problem on alleged faulty software supplied by international firm IBM for their computerization program, a charge the company has denied.

Last year, GSIS filed a case against IBM before the Pasay City regional trial court.

Aside from this, Basas said teachers would like the government to order a recall of the GSIS polices such as the automatic deduction on arrears and the premium-based policy among others.

They also called on the GSIS management to implement a refund of at least P1.7 billion that they said were “unfairly” deducted by the GSIS from their benefits.

At the same time, the teachers took to task President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III for taking too long to find a replacement for Garcia whom they dubbed “Enemy Number One” of teachers.

“Sir will you please tell the President to make good on his campaign promise to replace Mr. Garcia at the GSIS,” one of the teachers-attendees to the recent dialogue pleaded to Luistro and Varela.

Garcia stands accused of mismanaging GSIS, but has managed to head off clamor for his ouster throughout the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

He was personally chosen by Arroyo to head GSIS. His family delivered crucial votes for Arroyo in the controversial presidential elections in 2004.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Malacanang has already picked a replacement for Garcia but refused to disclose the replacement.

In earlier statements meantime, Garcia defended his record at the GSIS, saying it is the top earning government enterprise to date as it managed to increased its total assets by nine percent to P480 billion in 2008 from P441 billion during the previous year.

The state-pension fund, according to Garcia, is also poised to hit its P50 billion net income target for 2008, 25-percent higher than the previous year's income level.

Garcia noted that the GSIS has not lost sight of its mandate as provider of benefits to its members and pensioners.

The GSIS likewise refuted the claim that it has been illegally deducting from the teachers contribution to cover the payment for their premium dues. It said the hands of the insurance body are tied since DepEd has not been able to fully paid its due. (AH/Sunnex)