An Eye-Opener : GSIS Forfeits My Wife’s Lump Sum Benefit
By Eduardo A. Duarte
This is a big eye-opener to public school teachers in the country and all government employees alike.
Who knows, many have already been victims of the case recently experienced by our adversely affected family? Only, nobody has dared to come out in the open to expose the ills of the defective retirement policies of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). Last April 3, when I claimed her 5-year lump sum benefit for 19 years of government service at the GSIS regional office in Tangub, Bacolod City, I was empty-handed. Ridiculously, besides being empty-handed, my wife turned out a delinquent loan borrower, instead.
Due to failure to submit the retirement requirements on effective retirement date last January 15, my wife’s lump sum payment was automatically forfeited.
Afflicted with ovarian cancer
Afflicted with an ovarian cancer, my wife, Lida L. Duarte, 63, Filipino teacher at the Victorias National High School (VNHS) in Victorias City, Negros Occidental, applied for an early retirement effective March 31, 2012. But last December 19, as she was unconscious for 18 hours following removal of excess fluid in her abdomen and lungs, the effectivity of her retirement was advanced to January 15, 2012.
The advanced retirement was cleared January 10 by graft investigation officer Elpedio S. Montecillo of the Office of the Ombudsman for retirement purposes that Mrs. Duarte had no pending criminal and administrative cases with the office. The ombudsman representative visits only once in every two months in the area.
Her retirement application was dated December 22. Its processing was facilitated by VNHS administrative personnel. There were holidays during the period, coinciding with the Dep171d long Christmas break. Moreover, early last January, there might be conferences, seminars, workshops, etc., including appointments (official and personal) brownouts and transport strikes affecting signatories and processors, hence affected processing of the retirement requirements.
Unfortunately, my wife died of malignant ovarian cancer, stage lV last January 26, only two months and 10 days after being diagnosed November 16 with the malignant illness. She had a terminal life between 11 to 18 months, but she unexpectedly succumbed much earlier to the deadly cancer aptly described as "treacherous and aggressive".
DepEd regional director Mildred L. Garay, CESO 111, approved February 9 the retirement of Mrs. Duarte effective January 15, 2012, which was released February 13.
Inhumanity and indignity
The case of my departed wife should have been given kind consideration, instead of being treated with inhumanity and indignity by forfeiting her lump sum benefit and even depicting her as a delinquent loan borrower. In fact, based on records, she had been consistently paying, or simply put, a good borrower.
As a teacher, she was bestowed full dignity in her hospitalization and medication and during the wake and interment. For care and respect given to her, the family owed P200,000, pledging her lump sum benefit. As it was forfeited, a problem arises in settling the amount.
Actually, I now have mixed emotions of profound pity for my 3 children for being bereft of their departed mother’s hard - earned lump sum benefit as a teacher and total shame to persons close to me whom I owed the big amount, I have not owed that much in my entire life as I live a simple life.
Letters for consideration had been dispatched to GSIS chairman Daniel L. Lacson, Jr. and regional manager Vilma L. Fuentes in Bacolod City for the release of the mandated lump sum benefit of my departed wife and also letters or appeal for intercession with GSIS to DepEd Secretary Bro. Armin A. Luistro, FSC and DepEd regional director for Region VI, M. Mildred L. Garay, CSEO III.
Much I expect the pillars of both DepEd and GSIS to act immediately to resolve the deplorable case of my departed wife’ as a social responsibility in dignifying her as a teacher and teaching as a noble profession.
After a heart-to-heart talk with GSIS regional manager Fuentes at her office in Bacolod City last April 11, I raised to her an urgent proposal : "That the lump sum benefit be granted to a retiree based on the effectivity of the retirement date, and not on the submission of the retirement requirements."
Ms. Fuentes replied, "Rest assured that we will act on your case, accordingly and within the time allowable per existing policy and procedure. We will provide you feedback from time to time."
But how long will it take? Between now and then, at 64, many things can happen. Should something happen to me, who will then pursue this herculean task?
Where will the lump sum payment of my departed wife really go?
And so, I urge the GSIS to effect speedy change on its defective retirement policy in granting lump sum payment. Much time has been lost in resolving our anguish and sufferings.
Finally, may I deeply appeal to all public school teachers and government employees all over the country to rally behind this humane and noble cause for the immediate change of the GSIS retirement policy in granting lump sum benefit. Indeed, this rightful vigorous move will benefit everybody in the government service.*