The Blessed Association of Retired Persons or BARP, raised their grievances in a meeting with the President of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Bert Vergara, and its Chairman Daniel Lacson through the efforts and mediation of DIWA Party-List Rep. Aglipay. At a meeting held on November 8, 2010, some members of the BARP aired concerns with regard to premium-based policy, survivorship claims, policies on investments, grievance mechanisms and increase in pension rates. The dialogues were conducted to thresh out inconsistencies in policies and for guidance in the legislation and amending of the GSIS law, Republic Asct No. 8291.

On the issue of survivorship benefits, members of the BARP took issue on GSIS’ definition of the term “dependent.” The aforementioned policy is based on a decision of the Supreme Court, and GSIS took the term “dependent” to mean not having gainful employment. Members of the BARP were understandably opposed to this, as “dependent” should refer to relatives of the pensioner, whether or not they are gainfully employed. In reply, the representative of the GSIS said that the current policy is being reviewed, and that they are open to continued consultations with the BARP.

Members of the BARP also raised issues on ghost loans, double deductions which have a severe impact on their respective pensions. GSIS said that these ghost loans and double deductions occurred as a result of a computer crash in their system. In addition, GSIS said that they are already working to fix these glitches, and promised that the errors created by this will be fixed in six (6) month’s time.

Another item that members of the BARP pointed out was that the grievance mechanism of the GSIS was ineffective. To this, GSIS replied that they are currently strengthening their grievance mechanisms at the grassroots level to be a more efficient venue for pensioners.

Lastly, members of the BARP asked that they be allowed to have a representative in the Board of Trustees of the GSIS, in order that their concerns may be heard, and for them to have a vote on the matters that directly affect them. Representatives of the GSIS informed members of the BARP that they are indeed represented in the said Board of Trustees only that this representative apparently does not contact the organizations that he represents.

At the close of the meeting, representatives from the GSIS promised that they will work to address most, if not all of the concerns raised by members of the BARP. Specifically, GSIS promised the following:

  1. In 2-3 months there will be a new policy on survivorship benefits;
  2. In 6 months, the errors related to the ghost loans and double deductions caused by the computer crash will be fixed;
  3. In the 1st quarter of 2011, it will be more accessible for retirees to get their pensions from both Unionbank and Landbank.