Labor leader presses former GSIS GM for update on foreign investments

by Kobakila News

MANILA — Labor leader Ernesto Herrera has welcomed former Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) president and general manager Winston Garcia’s statement that he is ready to submit to an audit of the pension fund’s operations during his term.

While welcoming Garcia’s remarks, Herrera expressed disappointment that the erstwhile GSIS chief has yet to address the matter of the condition of the pension fund’s foreign investments, and the question why many pensioners are still complaining about delays in their monthly allowances.

Herrera said he had nothing personal against Garcia. “We are not asking that his (Garcia’s) performance as GSIS chief be graded one way or the other. All we are asking is a definite answer with respect to the status of the pension fund’s foreign investments,” said Herrera, a former senator.

“The truth is, the only reason we’ve raised the matter is because the previous GSIS management never offered members as well as the public current information on the state of the pension fund’s foreign investments,” Herrera said.

“At the same, the problem of pension delays has become serious, with no less than President Aquino recognizing the issue,” Herrera pointed out.

The President earlier said that in all the areas where he campaigned, retired government employees, mostly former public school teachers, repeatedly asked him where their GSIS pensions went.

“So I want to know the condition of GSIS. I don’t agree with the explanation that it has failed to service its members because of computer glitches,” Aquino said last week, when he named Lacson as the pension fund’s new chairman.

Herrera, meanwhile, denied insinuations that he actually borrowed any money from the GSIS.

“That is not true. Some 15 or 20 years ago, another union leader, Zoilo Dela Cruz, had a home loan with the GSIS. He lost his source of income, and he could not afford to continue payments,” Herrera said.

“He begged me to assume continuing the payments. But this was a long time ago. I suppose GSIS already foreclosed on the property,” Herrera said.

Herrera earlier urged the new GSIS chairman, Daniel “Bitay” Lacson, to immediately ascertain and then fully disclose to the public the true condition of the pension fund’s $565-million Global Investment Program (GIP).

He said GSIS members have no idea whether the GIP has been making or losing money, and to what extent it has been generating gains or incurring losses.

“Over the last two years, the global financial markets have been highly turbulent. We reckon the GIP has been shaken by the turmoil,” said Herrera, former chairman of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development.

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