Gov’t pays arrears to GSIS so teachers may receive benefitsBy Ronnel W. Domingo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Some 785,000 public school teachers can again avail themselves of benefits from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) after Malacañang started settling almost P7 billion in unpaid premiums covering three and a half years.
Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad said last week his department had released P3.46 billion, accounting for the national government’s share of the P6.92 billion in unpaid GSIS premiums for 784,602 employees of the Department of Education (DepEd) covering the second half of 2007 up to the end of 2010.
In September, the GSIS agreed to write off some P14 billion in penalties on the unpaid premiums that had accumulated over the past 12 years.
“President Aquino instructed us to expedite the payment of unsettled GSIS premiums for all DepEd personnel,” Abad said.
“The recent fund release is the first step in restoring the benefits of affected employees, as well as in resolving this longstanding problem,” he added.
In September, the Department of Budget and Management signed a memorandum of agreement with the GSIS and the DepEd on the payment of the arrears. The DBM committed itself to shouldering half of it.
The amount will be charged against the “miscellaneous personnel benefits fund” in the 2012 national budget. The balance will be sourced from DepEd savings.
Under the MOA, the GSIS will lift the suspension of the loan privileges and other benefits due affected DepEd employees once this initial payment has been made.
This means that those affected can finally claim their GSIS benefits, including their retirement benefits and monthly pensions.
Further, Abad said, a new system would be put in place—a national payroll system (NPS)—which will help ensure that payments on GSIS premiums are remitted directly from the treasury to the pension fund instead of going through the schools.
He explained that the Aquino administration is pushing for the enrolment of all DepEd employees in the NPS to prevent a repeat of the nonpayment of worker insurance premiums, which happened under the current system where salaries go through the employing agencies, in this case the schools.
“Besides penalizing those responsible for the nonremittance of GSIS contributions, we also need to pursue long-term solutions that will prevent this same problem from resurfacing,” Abad said.
“The integration of DepEd workers into the NPS should address this problem as well as boost transparency and accountability in the management of salaries for government workers,” he added.