In The News
Reposted from GMA News Online (http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/301275/news/nation/gsis-to-refund-p126m-to-deped-employees)
GSIS to refund P126M to DepEd employees
The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) will refund a total of P126.47 million to more than 20,500 active and retired employees of the Department of Education (DepEd) beginning April.
Covered by the refund — the second since January — are employees whose cash surrender value (amount paid to the policyholder upon separation from the service) or maturity benefit (benefit payable upon maturity of the endowment policy) were deducted premiums-in-arrears for July 1997 to December 2010.
According to the state-run pension fund, the second tranche of refund represents the payment of premium contributions pertaining to the government share, which were previously deducted from the life insurance benefits of the employees.
Last January, GSIS provided an initial refund of P362.35 million that benefited more than 73,000 DepEd personnel.
This was after the GSIS received the P3.46 billion payment of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) representing half of the total P6.92 billion in unpaid compulsory premium contributions, or the government’s share of more than 800,000 teaching and non-teaching employees of the DepEd from July 1, 1997 to December 31, 2010.
“The settlement formed part of a milestone agreement signed in September last year, among DBM, DepEd and GSIS, which finally addressed the chronic issue on the non-remittance of premiums affecting the right of DepEd workers to avail themselves of their full GSIS benefits while in service and upon their retirement,” said GSIS president and general manager Robert Vergara.
As a result of the second tranche of refund, “more than 14,000 DepEd employees in active service will enjoy a proportionate increase in loanable amounts and potentially, increased retirement benefits,” Vergara said.
GSIS said it would also recalculate the benefits received by 6,530 separated and retired employees and will refund any deducted amount. — KBK, GMA News
ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio said President Benigno Aquino III is “no different” from his predecessor, former President and incumbent Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in using the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF)—commonly known as pork barrel—for political gains.
“It’s a reality of patronage politics that Malacañang makes use of its power to release or withhold pork barrel in the amounts, timing, and to whom it so chooses in order to exert influence on legislature, make or break election campaigns, and build or destroy political bailiwicks,” Tinio said in a text message.
He added that the administration’s decision to make Akbayan Rep. Arlene Bag-ao, who is seeking a congresssional post in the island-province in the May elections, as the “caretaker” of Dinagat Islands goes against Aquino’s “tuwid na daan (straight path)” slogan.
On Wednesday, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported the DBM Secretary Florencio Abad Jr. admitted that the P140-million fund for Dinagat Islands was “facilitated through” Bag-ao after the province’s former congressman, Ruben Ecleo Jr., was dropped from the list of House members last June.
Ecleo, a cult leader in the province, remains at large despite having been found guilty of graft by the Sandiganbayan. The guilty verdict has already been affirmed by the Supreme Court.
House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. reportedly chose Bag-ao, whose party-list is closely associated with the Aquino administration, as Dinagat Islands’ caretaker after Ecleo was removed from Congress.
‘All accounted for’
Akbayan, meanwhile, defended Bag-ao and maintained that there was nothing irregular about her role as caretaker of Dinagat Islands.
“Bag-ao, who hails from Dinagat, immediately attended to the pressing needs of the people of the province, particularly in securing funds for much-delayed infrastructure and social service programs,” the party-list said in separate statement.
It added that Bag-ao handled the funds transparently, and even described the release of the pork barrel through her as “a people’s victory.”
“These releases were all accounted for and reflected in the report submitted to the DBM by the office of Rep. Kaka Bag-ao, a practice that Akbayan party-list has been dutifully fulfilling for the last 15 years. It is sad that some only see the coming election with the release of the said fund,” Akbayan’s statement read. — KBK, GMA News
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo should quit as congresswoman of Pampanga’s 2nd District now that she is facing electoral sabotage charges before a local court, a lawmaker said Tuesday.
In a statement, Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño said Arroyo will be unable to function effective in Congress “considering her prolonged detention due to the string of serious, unbailable charges that she faces.”
He also said Arroyo brought “embarrassment and dishonor” to the House of Representatives after she was charged with manipulating the results of the 2007 election.
“Therefore she should now do the House and her constituents a favor by resigning from Congress,” he said.
Casiño said a special election can then be called in her district so the people can elect a working, suitable representative in Congress.
Another party-list lawmaker, Alliance of Concerned Teachers’ Rep. Antonio Tinio, also echoed Casiño’s call for Arroyo to resign.
Tinio said Arroyo’s “culpable actions as President have long rendered her unfit for public service; her present incarceration renders it impracticable.”
Meanwhile, Gabriela party-list Rep. Luz Ilagan said it would be up to Arroyo to resign. She criticized the alleged VIP treatment of Arroyo, particularly the hospital arrest of the former president.
Ilagan said Arroyo’s prosecution is the only way for impunity to end.
Her fellow lawmaker, Gabriela Rep. Emmy de Jesus, said she wants President Aquino to know and feel their sentiments supporting the quick prosecution of cases against Arroyo.
Separately, Akbayan lawmakers slammed any possible moves by Arroyo’s allies to accord Arroyo some protection.
“The people’s right to justice must take precedence over the right of a single individual. The Minority should stop treating this House as if it were a shelter for crooks, plunderers, and criminals,” Akbayan Rep. Kaka Bag-ao said in a statement.
Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello argued that Gloria has no right to special treatment.
“A hospital arrest is better than protective custody. But if there is fear of real threats to her well being, the DOJ can simply increase its complement of PNP and DOJ personnel providing security for her,” Bello said.
The party-list congressman also pointed out that it would be unwise to bring Arroyo to the Batasang Pambansa where she would be closer to her staunchest allies. ”At a time when all of Gloria’s escape routes are blocked off, bringing GMA to Congress would open a little window of opportunity for her to plot her final escape,” he said.
House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III earlier said the electoral sabotage case cannot be used to remove Arroyo as a member of the lower House since it involves allegations that supposedly occurred before she became a lawmaker.
He stressed that only after conviction by final judgment can Arroyo be removed from office.
In the meantime, Arroyo’s son and Ang Galing Pinoy party-list Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo may be designated a caretaker of his mother’s district, where he served before 2010. Report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
ANG Galing Pinoy party-list Representative Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo may be designated as the caretaker of the second district of Pampanga after her mother, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was placed under arrest.
Aside from the other three legislators representing Pampanga in the House of Representatives, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said Mikey Arroyo “can also qualify” considering that he held his mother’s position from 2004 to 2010 before he ran as a party-list congressman.
The three other representatives of Pampanga are Carmelo Lazatin (first district), Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales (third district), and Anna York Bondoc (fourth district).
“At the moment, she’s pretty much in control of the district and if she’d ever reach a point not to discharge her duties but still hold a position, we can assign a caretaker…She can still do things through her staff,” Belmonte told reporters in a press briefing Tuesday.
Belmonte issued the statement after some members of the progressive party-list bloc called for the resignation of former President Arroyo.
“Her arrest and trial for her string of cases will definitely prevent her from effectively fulfilling her duties in Congress. This is aside from the point that her continued membership further tarnishes the House’s honor,” Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casino said in a text message.
For his part, ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio, said “it will become impossible” for Arroyo to discharge all her duties considering that the electoral sabotage case she is facing is only one of many charges she has to account for.
Belmonte, however, stressed that the presumption of innocence should be upheld. He said Arroyo’s colleagues should not demand her resignation considering the trial has not even started.
“But at any rate, resignation is always a personal matter and we cannot impose that,” he added.
Arroyo is currently under hospital arrest at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City after being implicated in the manipulation of the 2007 election results. She is facing non-bailable electoral sabotage charges and may face lifetime imprisonment.
House leaders say that if Arroyo is convicted in the courts, she will automatically be expelled from the House of Representatives.
Arroyo ran as the second district representative of Pampanga after her nine-year term as President.
Belmonte meanwhile said Arroyo will continue to receive her priority development assistance fund (PDAF) more popularly known as “pork barrel”.
“The pork barrel after all is for the good of the district and they should be released,” he said.(Sunnex)