While campaigning for the ouster of their president Winston Garcia, employees of the Government Service Insurance System take a step higher by calling for the ouster of the one who appointed him – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
BY DABET CASTAÑEDA
Beaming with pride after the Court of Appeals (CA) decided June 16 that their four-day protest action in October 2004 calling for the ouster of their president and chief executive officer (CEO) Winston Garcia was legitimate, employees of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) have taken a step higher by calling for the ouster of the person who appointed him – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Lawyer Albert Velasco, president of the Kapisanan ng mga Manggagawa sa GSIS (KMG – Federation of GSIS Employees) said the decision to join the campaign to oust Macapagal-Arroyo was reached after Rep. Clavel Martinez divulged that she has in her possession a tape that would prove that election fraud also occurred in Cebu City, central Philippines. Martinez, herself an administration congresswoman, said that based on the tape, the cheating involved Garcia who belongs to an influential political family in Cebu.
Martinez gave this information in the on-going congressional inquiry on the alleged wire-tapped conversation between the President and Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano during the election canvassing in June 2004.
“Kaya kami nandito dahil sumasama kami sa panawagan ng sambayanan na patalsikin si GMA. Lumalabas ay peke siyang presidente at dapat syang patalsikin sa pwesto” (We’re here to support the people’s call for the ouster of GMA. She’s a fake president and she should go), said Velasco who wore a red shirt with the words “Serve the People” and a buri hat with the sticker “Gloria Resign!” which was distributed during the June 24 unity march.
As a lawyer, the union president said it is illegal for the President to communicate with anybody from an independent institution that supervises the elections. With Macapagal-Arroyo as incumbent president, she had the power to cheat during the last elections.
Election results showed that Macapagal-Arroyo won handily in Cebu with a at least one million over closest rival, the late Fernando Poe Jr. Malacañang officials claimed it was her votes in Cebu that turned the election results in her favor. But the election turnout in Cebu, Mindanao and other provinces had been in contest.
Cebu received priority in budget allocations with the President herself planning to have another Malacañang palace in Cebu. Despite public clamor, she has refused to fire Garcia as GSIS president and CEO.
Garcia tangled in a corruption controversy middle of last year that forced employees of the GSIS to call for his ouster.
Meanwhile, Velasco said operations continue at the GSIS despite the fact that some 361 employees and union officials and representatives have been charged with grievous conduct for holding protests actions in front of the GSIS building on Oct. 4-7 last year.
But the bright spot here, Velasco said, is that the CA has ruled that the protests were legitimate thus making the charges filed against the 361 employees null and void. “The GSIS is perpetually enjoined from issuing formal charges for the protest action that we did,” Velasco explained.
Velasco, however, has not gone back to work as he was dropped from the rolls by Garcia in late 2003 for leading the protest actions against the GSIS president. The CA had issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) for his dismissal but Garcia seemed to have refused honoring the court decision.
“I’m waiting for the CA to rule on the legality of my dismissal but for me, it is clear that it was illegal,” he said.
For now, he and his colleagues are busy campaigning for Macapagal-Arroyo’s ouster because this would also mean the fall of Garcia from GSIS. Bulatlat