Baguio Teachers Complain Against Unfair GSIS Policies, Push for Representation to GSIS Board

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BAGUIO CITY — As their colleagues trooped to Malacañang to seek audience with President Benigno Aquino III, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Metro Baguio and the Confederation of Unity for Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees-Cordillera (COURAGE) last Friday aired their demands and launched a signature campaign urging Baguio Congressman Bernardo Vergara to support their demand for a salary upgrade.

“The teachers have all the reason to air their grievances regarding the Government Security Insurance System (GSIS),” said Ronnie Taggaoa, spokesperson of ACT-MB. Taggaoa declared that while teachers are dedicated to their work and still earning meager salaries, they are being robbed of their GSIS benefits.

According to Taggaoa, the GSIS members have suffered enough from the Premium-Based Policy (PBP) and the Claims and Loan Interdependency Program (CLIP). Under the PBP, the GSIS arbitrarily deducts from members’ benefits and any loan proceeds premium contributions in case of delays of remittances. Through this, Taggaoa said, teachers are being unduly penalized because although these are compulsorily and automatically being deducted from their salaries, it is still the teachers who are being penalized when their contributions and loan payments are not being submitted by their employer agencies regularly.

Taggaoa said it is not the members’ fault if their respective agencies did not remit on time. “We members should not be the ones punished but the agencies who are not submitting the remittances on time.”

The CLIP, Taggaoa said, is a scheme where obligations that are not yet due or are covered by separate contracts are immediately deducted from the benefits and loan proceeds of the members.

While members have long suffered because of the unjust GSIS system and the cannot access what is due them, the administration and employees of GSIS get monthly salaries and yearly bonuses that are extravagantly high, said ACT.

Teacher Brenda Bal-iyang of Rizal Elementary School testified before her co-teachers and government employees of her hardship in getting her benefits as a GSIS member. “I have followed up my application for educational assistance for my child but until now there is no result. I asked GSIS why the processing of my application is very slow when they claimed their system is already computerized, but they have no answer,” exclaimed Bal-iyang.

Bal-iyang also questioned the GSIS about their records. She has been a master teacher for two years now and yet she is recorded in the GSIS data as teacher three. “A GSIS employee told me that he cannot answer my question since their computers are off-line,” narrated Bal-iyang.

ACT is pushing for a genuine representative of teachers to the Board of Directors in the GSIS. Because most of the GSIS members are teachers, ACT said, it is only right that a teacher’s representative be in the policy-making body to ensure that members will truly benefit. The ACT also demand the immediate refund of all amounts illegally deducted from the members. ACT also asks for the scrapping of the PBP and CLIP. The teachers’ movement also seeks the investigation and prosecution of former GSIS head Winston Garcia because of his alleged unlawful acts and policies.

ACT-MB launched at the Baguio City Peoples’ Park a signature campaign calling on Baguio Congressman Vergara to support the immediate enactment of House Bill 2142. The said bill is seeking a minimum salary grade of public school teachers from Grade 11 to 15. Salary grade 11 is P15,649 while salary grade 15 is P24, 887.

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