More benefits for GSIS members

ANGEL THOUGHTS

“Forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness but because you deserve peace.” – Sent by Pempe Rodrigo

[caption id="attachment_33994" align="alignright" width="454"]GSIS President and General Manager Bernie Vergara (seated front row with Deedee), is surrounded by Bulong Pulungan sa Sofitel stalwarts. From left, Domini Torrevillas, Frank Evaristo, Joy Fong, Charito Planas, Rina David, Jullie Yap-Daza, Beth Tagle, Charo Yu, Doni Ramirez, and Bobby Joseph. GSIS President and General Manager Bernie Vergara (seated front row with Deedee), is surrounded by Bulong Pulungan sa Sofitel stalwarts. From left, Domini Torrevillas, Frank Evaristo, Joy Fong, Charito Planas, Rina David, Jullie Yap-Daza, Beth Tagle, Charo Yu, Doni Ramirez, and Bobby Joseph.[/caption]

Amid the heartbreaking news on the loss of lives, homes, buildings and heritage sites in Bohol and Cebu because of the strong earthquakes there, we welcome the outpouring of help from the whole country, our “kababayans” abroad  and our international friends.

National government and the concerned departments and agencies have not been remiss in helping either, contrary to some media sensationalists. While some remote barangays were not immediately reached, at press time, all have received relief goods.

We continue to marvel at the stamina, simplicity  and courage of president Noy who not only made his rounds in Cebu and Bohol, decided to stay two days in Loon, Bohol, sleeping under a tent  with a big hole in an open field and eating from plastic plates and drinking from styro cups. He announced that he endorses the proposal of the DSWD secretary, hard-working Dinky Soliman that the rations be packed to last at least two weeks instead of just two to three days. This will minimize government efforts in distributing them and the recipients coming back for more every few days.

This makes a lot of sense and with the same efforts the expanded rations can last a family of five longer. We also have to understand that while the local officials may sometimes appear pig-headed about the protocol in distributing relief goods in their area, they are within their mandate and within the law. In disasters and emergency situations, they are the “ground commanders“ who are supposed to have a grip on the numbers, whereabouts, and conditions of people in their areas of responsibilities.

It was unfortunate that a mayor of a town in Bohol and the head of the Philippine Red Cross had unpleasant exchanges as to who was supposed to distribute the relief goods. Cool it guys. The people who need the goods are suffering.

* * *

Manila Hotel presents “The Lettermen:  A Dinner Concert for a Cause“ to raise funds for Rotary International District 3810 “End Polio Now” project and for the victims of Bohol initiated by Rotary Club Manila 101 FC President Joyce Reyes on Nov. 12.

The legendary trio is returning to Manila more than three years after their last visit and they will treat concert-goers to a fabulous repertoire including “When I Fall In Love,” “They Way You Look Tonight,” “Theme From A Summer Place,” “Goin Out Of My Head,” Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing,” and many more with their new versions of Christmas Songs. They will also perform some Tagalog songs like: “Dahil Sa Iyo,” and “Sapagkat Kami Ay Tao Lamang.”

See you there!

* * *

We had GSIS president and general manager Bernie Vergara at our Pulong Bulungan last week and he had good tidings to tell us.

Five branch offices of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) have recently been rated “Excellent” for exemplary service and for complying with the provisions of Republic Act we 9485 or the Anti-Red Tape Act (ARTA).

The Civil Service Commission (CSC), the bureaucracy’s personnel agency conducting ARTA survey among government offices, has conferred on the GSIS Bacolod Branch Office the CSC‘s Seal of Excellence last 13 September 2013 for obtaining a 91.57 ARTA rating.  It is the first GSIS office to receive the award.

As the CSC continues conducting the survey, four other GSIS branch offices have rebounded from "failed" ratings in 2012 and earned "excellent" scores to date: Bohol (93.28%), Laguna (93.21%), Masbate (90.34%), and Bulacan (90.20%). From a final grade average of 63% for 13 branches surveyed in 2012, the current average for the same branch offices is 89.70%. These include Palawan (89.35%), Tuguegarao (89.28%), Batangas (89.12%), Lucena (89.11%), and Dipolog (81.48%).

The ARTA passing grade is set at 70%, with no grade falling below 70% in any of the five core areas - conformance with ARTA provisions, frontline service, service quality, physical working condition, and overall (client) satisfaction.

“Receiving those ratings is a welcome indication that the reforms toward service breakthroughs that we initiated in 2012 and started implementing in 2013 are paying off,”  Vergara said. He added that the ARTA ratings only affirm, among others, that “pursuing improved service and benefits for our members and pensioners remains, as it should, the pension fund’s overarching goal.”

Good and efficient service to the GSIS members has been the driving force behind Vergara’s commitment to all government employee-members and this goal borne good fruits. His parents, Bernie reminded us again, were GSIS members (his mother is still a pensioner) and he has also taken to heart President Noy’s arching order to him to “Serve your constituents well.” Vergara also said that the Commission on Audit recently released its unqualified opinion on the financial position of GSIS as of December 31, 2012.

“This is the second time in a row that GSIS has received an unqualified opinion.”

An unqualified opinion means that COA believes that the financial statements of GSIS are sound and are presented fairly “in all material respects”.

He noted that 2012 was a “banner year for the pension fund” with total comprehensive income reaching Php93.2 billion, from Php73.2 billion in 2011 and Php63.9 billion in 2010.In addition, payment of claims for retirement, pension, disability and funeral benefits increased by 23% from Php51.7 billion in 2011 to Php63.6 billion in  2012.  GSIS also granted Php37.9 billion in various loans which benefited 1,583,887 borrowers.

Vergara is also working towards amendments to the GSIS charter which would institutionalize member–friendly service such as have a member Bill of Rights, Designation of beneficiary by single members when they reach age 50; removal of re-marriage or co-habitation  as basis of cancellation of survivorship; increase funeral benefits to P30 thousand ; no prescription period for claims; and option of members to claim their separation benefits. He is also looking forward to having uniformed personnel as members and the putting up of offices in Quezon City, Bohol and Cabanatuan.

GSIS members now have e-cards which give them access to information about their pension, loans, payments, etc.

* * *

Next weekend, join the  magical Mad Hatter Tea Party at the Taal Vista Hotel in Tagaytay on Nov. 2 starting at 3 p.m.  Fun and games await all guests. Please come in your costumed best!

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