April 5, 2010
Teachers held a protest action in front of the Pasay City Hall of Justice this morning while Antonio Tinio, national president and first nominee of ACT TEACHERS Partylist, was arraigned for four counts of libel before the Pasay Regional Trial Court 119.
Tinio entered a plea of not guilty on four charges of libel filed against him by Government Service Insurance System President and General Manager Winston Garcia. The charges stem from statements allegedly made by Tinio criticizing Garcia’s use of GSIS funds in a bid to take corporate control of Meralco, as well as for investing in the US stock market at the height of the sub-prime mortgage crisis.
“We assert the right of ordinary citizens to criticize the public acts of a public official like Winston Garcia,” said Tinio. “The libel cases he has filed against me are an attempt to suppress freedom of expression.”
Tinio pointed out that his statements against GSIS and Garcia express the legitimate complaints of teachers and other public sector employees against the pension fund’s unjust policies. “Teachers and other employees all over the country are being vicitimized by the negligent record-keeping of GSIS. They are subjected to unwarranted deductions as well as surcharges and penalties. It’s no wonder that the GSIS is the single most hated government office among the ranks of teachers and employees.”
Tinio estimates that the GSIS has made at least Php 2 billion in illegal deductions from the benefits of public school teachers and non-teaching personnel of the Department of Education alone. “That’s a very conservative estimate.”
Tinio added that ACT TEACHERS Partylist will lead a nationally-coordinated day of protest against the GSIS on April 28. “Protest actions at GSIS offices in major cities throughout the country will take place. We are calling on GSIS to immediately refund all unwarranted deductions to its members. We’re also calling for the ouster of Garcia.”
ACT TEACHERS Partylist challenged the presidential candidates running in the May 10 elections to install a new GSIS management that will institute genuine reforms in the state pension fund. “Not a single presidential candidate has taken a stand on the GSIS. We challenge them to do so, for the sake of the millions of public school teachers and other government employees and their families.” #