IN his first State of the Nation Address on Monday, President Duterte told the public to bring to his attention the shortcoming of heads of government agencies that they deal with.
Hopefully, with the president’s assurance of help when urgently needed, the people around him would tell him about the plight of government retirees who are having a hard time in following-up their benefits with the Government Service Insurance System.
Here is letter that Duediligencer from Elfieda Maddara, a reader. Maddara says she is a retired government worker. She decided to write to Duediligencer after she has read my report on the pays and perks the government pays Robert G. Vergara as president and general manager of the Government Service Insurance System. The letter reads:
“I am only one of hundreds, if not thousands, of GSIS claimants who queue at the GSIS lobby, everyday as in araw-araw (Monday through Friday) following-up claims, FOR YEARS.
“I retired 11 years ago, but GSIS WILL NOT give me my claims properly until I got tired a couple of years ago.
“GSIS snail-mailed me that I will receive Php30,000 for an optional life insurance. It actually sent me P20,000 despite an earlier promise of a total of P30,000.
“The P20,000 in December, by the way, included the P10,000 as my regular Christmas gift. That was when I stopped making follow-ups.
“Incidentally, I was able to get this P20,000 through the help of GMA’s “Imbestigador.”
“I am at present arranging my papers again, (eight years of follow-ups with the agency) and wait for Pres. DU30 hotlines with whom I can submit the same.
“Thank you for time and may you make an in-depth investigation about GSIS anomalies by simply gathering data from the claimants that crowd the lobby everyday.”
It may be too presumptuous for me to judge Vergara based on one complaining member only. If Maddara’s claim is true, then something must be wrong with the way GSIS has been treating its retired members.
Is it not ironic that despite Vergara’s fat compensation – he received P16.365 million in 2012 – GSIS could not attend “properly” to a retired member? Are there others like Maddara who are made to wait for their turn to be served by GSIS’ personnel?
It is understandable that the government hired Vergara to make the money contributed by GSIS members grow by investing it. But it does not necessarily mean neglecting the public service that GSIS is expected to provide its members.
Hopefully, Maddara’s experience of GSIS’ erratic service is only an isolated case of misunderstanding. But the tone of her letter suggests she may have a valid complain that the agency should be able to resolve as soon as possible.
I recall a story, related this time by a retiree from a private company. He did not have anything against the Social Security System. As a matter of fact, he was thankful that his claim for pension benefits has been pending approval for only a month.
I met this retiree two months ago. He was surprised that I got my pension in less than two weeks; but he was willing to wait. Since I did not meet him again, I don’t know what happened to his application for monthly pensions.
Back to GSIS. Why would a government retiree be made to wait a long time before he/she would be entitled to receive retirement benefits? The management should have data on all government workers so that when their time to retire comes, GSIS could easily retrieve the information from its data bank for processing.
By keeping these bits of information, it could anticipate a government employee’s benefit claim upon when retiring.
Why should GSIS require retirees to file application for benefits when they have them on file? The same should be addressed to SSS where retired members have to line up to get an application and line up again to submit it. Then what?
The question that begs for an answer is why it takes too long for both SSS and GSIS to process retirees’ applications for pension benefits?
Finally, I hope I would not be writing again on members’ gripes against either GSIS or SSS because it pains to read a letter as Maddara wrote “your Vergara-GSIS article . . . pricks my heart and mind.”