Officials face jail over GSIS premiums

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Three former Department of Agrarian Reform-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DAR-ARMM) officials are facing one to three years jail time for failing to remit employer’s contributions of DAR-Maguindanao to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) for January 1997 to June 1998 amounting to P2.42 million.

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In a joint decision, the Sandiganbayan’s 2nd Division found former DAR-ARMM Regional Secretary Datu Guimid Matalam (who was the then ARMM vice-governor) cashier Ansarry Lawi and accountant Naimah Unte “guilty beyond reasonable doubt” of violation of Section 52(g) of the GSIS Act.

They were fined P20,000 each and face perpetual disqualification from public office and from practicing any profession or calling licensed by the government.

As DAR-ARMM Secretary from January 1997 to 1998, Matalam was considered the highest DAR-Maguindanao official, so he falls under the first category of officials responsible for remitting contributions to the GSIS, the court stressed.

“As far as accused Matalam is concerned, he cannot disclaim responsibility for said duty,” it said.

Lawi and Unte, it said, fall under the second category of responsible officers which include personnel involved in collecting premium contributions, loan amortization and other accounts due the GSIS.

“The period for them to do so had lapsed and adequate demands for such remittance were made on them. No justifiable reason for such failure to remit having been presented and considering too that money for that purpose was already received and available, the three accused certainly committed a violation of Section 52 [g]of RA [Republic Act]. No. 8291,” the decision read.

Matalam was also found guilty of violation of the Pag-IBIG Universal Coverage Law for failing to remit employer’s contributions of DAR-Maguindanao to Pag-IBIG or the Home Development Mutual Fund for the period January 1997 to June 1998 amounting to P149,100. For lack of basis, Lawi and Unte were cleared of the charge.

“[I]t is the Court’s submission that only accused Matalam may be penalized for the non-remittance of the Pag-IBIG fund contributions from the period from January 1997 to June 1998, and that the positions of Cashier II and Accountant II of accused Lawi and Unte, who are themselves employees, do not qualify them to be ‘employer’ vested with the obligation to remit the employer’s contributions to the Pag-IBIG fund,” the decision stated.

The court fined Matalam P190,506 and told him “to pay a penalty of 3.0 percent per month if the amounts payable from the date the contributions fell due and until the same are paid.”

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