ARMM offices owe GSIS P1.9B unpaid premiums PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 07 January 2012 16:20

Offices in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao owe the Government Service Insurance System P1.9 billion worth of unpaid premiums, something discovered only after the regional bureaucracy was placed under the control of a caretaker President Aquino tasked to fix the ARMM’s nagging fiscal and administrative woes. 

Some local government units in the autonomous region, which are not under the administrative control of the autonomous regional government, also separately have P800 million worth of unremitted premiums deducted from the salaries of LGU employees over the years.

Representatives of the GSIS, in a brainstorming session here yesterday with newly-appointed officials of the ARMM led by officer-in-charge Mujiv Hataman, also revealed, in the presence of reporters, that there are 10 regional agencies that are plagued with nagging remittance issues, topped by the graft-ridden Department of Education.

The GSIS, as consequence of the long-time non-remittance of premiums, both deductions from the salaries of ARMM employees and the counterpart of their respective offices, suspended all loan applications from the 10 controversial agencies.

Among the problematic offices is the ARMM’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which is now in the limelight for failing to effectively protect the region’s tropical rainforests, particularly the watersheds around Lake Lanao in Lanao del Sur whose downstream flow propels several hydro-electric plants that supply three-fourths of Mindanao’s power needs.

“This P1.9 billion unpaid obligations with the GSIS is horrible. This is a big, big problem,” Hataman said.

Hataman ordered an investigation on why offices in the autonomous region incurred heavy arrearages with GSIS, despite an undisrupted flow of funds from the central offices of the Department of Budget and Management down to the executive department of the regional government since the ARMM’s creation in 1990.

One issue newly-appointed ARMM officials see as the possible cause of the problem now besetting the regional government was the practice of previous officials of interfering with the affairs of the finance and budget division supposedly manned by permanent, career service employees.

“Some were floated and unloaded of their duties simply because they did not enjoy the confidence of their previous superiors or maybe because they would not want them to become accomplices to irregularities,” Hataman said.

Hataman said his administration is not pointing an accusing finger to any perceived culprit, but is merely focusing on issues and constraints as basis for introducing needed reforms in the regional bureaucracy.

He said he made their extensive consultation with officials of the GSIS here yesterday open to journalists to ensure dissemination of the deeper intricacies of the problems on unpaid insurance obligations of dozens of offices under the regional government.

Preceding the meeting between the new ARMM officials and representatives from the GSIS was a consultation with school principals, district supervisors and division superintendents under the DepEd-ARMM at the 600-seater Shariff Kabunsuan Complex near Hataman’s office.

DepEd-ARMM officials, representing a total of 17,000 teachers scattered in the region, took turns narrating to Hataman their sentiments on discrimination in promotions, interference of powerful politicians in the selection of applicant-teachers by supposedly impartial selection boards.

Helen Delgado, a school principal in Lantawan, one of the 11 towns in the island province of Basilan, said many of them are confronted with problems on delayed payment of salaries and fringe benefits.

“There were some of us who were due for promotion, after having passed all screening processes and complied with all requirements such as trainings only to find out that their names printed on the appointments to be signed by the regional governor have been replaced with names of people not even qualified,” an emotional Delgado said.

Normillah Pangandaman, a senior DepED official from Lanao del Sur, described as “topsy-turvy” the process of selecting teaching personnel for promotion and admission of qualified applicants for vacant positions in the department.

As an initial resolution, Hataman, division superintendents, representatives from the field office of the Civil Service Commission in the ARMM, agreed to work out the prompt release of salaries and emoluments of teachers.

Hataman said each of education department’s 17,000 employees would also have their individual automated bank payroll account now. —  Felix Ostrea