Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 3, Number 38 October 26 - November 1, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
The Ghosts of GSIS
scandal involving GSIS president and general manager, Winston Garcia, is not the
first to hit the agency. In recent years, the GSIS has been involved in scandals
under the administrations of Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada.
Alexander Martin Remollino
a press release on its website itself acknowledges, the Government Service
Insurance System (GSIS) has been controversial at times.
enough, the scandal surrounding its present president and general manager,
Winston Garcia, is not the first to hit the GSIS. In recent years, the GSIS has
been involved in scandals under the administrations of Fidel Ramos and Joseph
Expo Filipino was supposed to be a showcase of the Philippines’ achievements in its 100 years as an “independent” nation. This was a project of the National Centennial Commission (NCC) and the private Philippine Centennial Exposition ’98 Corporation. Former Vice President Salvador Laurel was appointed to head the NCC.
The construction of Expo Filipino entailed a total budget of Php3.5 billion (U.S.$ 63.64 million). Then President Fidel Ramos directed three Government Financial Institutions: the Social Security System (SSS), the GSIS, and the Land Bank of the Philippines to lend a total of Php1.4 billion (U.S.$25.45 million) to the joint venture.
The project was criticized for the excessive amounts of money that went to its construction. Particular targets of criticism were: a Freedom Ring (more than P1.2 billion); a parking lot (P111 million); an entry zone (P118 million); display villages (P290 million); an artificial river (P76 million); and bridges on this river (P32 million).
Expo Filipino closed
down in 1999 after sustaining heavy losses.
One of the items in
the plunder case against former President Joseph Estrada involves the use of
GSIS funds to purchase shares of stock in a gaming corporation.
Estrada is alleged
to have directed the GSIS and the SSS to purchase a total of 701,733,000 shares
of stock in Belle Corporation, owned by Dante Tan. Of these, 351,878,000 were
purchased with GSIS funds.
The shares of stock
in Belle Corporation bought with combined GSIS and SSS funds amounted to a total
of Php1.8 billion (U.S.$ 32.72 million). The greater part of these were bought
with GSIS funds, amounting to Php1.102 billion (U.S.$20.04 million).
Estrada was also charged with collecting or receiving, directly or indirectly, commissions or percentages from these purchases of shares of stock. These amounted to Php189.7 million (U.S.$3.45 million). These are alleged to have become part of the deposit in Equitable-PCI Bank made by Estrada under the account name “Jose Velarde.” Bulatlat.com