12.12.2010

PIA News Service - Sunday, Dec. 12, 2010

GSIS scraps stringent rules on survivorship pension

Next year promises to be a better year for 306,597 old-age and survivorship pensioners of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) after the newly-constituted Board of Trustees reversed some of the stringent rules on the qualification for GSIS survivorship pension that have prevented them from enjoying this benefit.

In its meeting Wednesday, the Board issued a resolution which will allow surviving spouses of members and pensioners to receive their monthly pension benefits even if they are gainfully employed and receiving other sources of income.

The directive removes provisions in the revised Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the GSIS Charter (RA 8291), which disqualified surviving spouses from getting the usual half of the GSIS pensioners monthly benefit if the spouse earns more than the minimum wage rate of national government employees or is getting pension from other institutions, no matter what amount.

This controversial provision in the IRR argues that a surviving spouse must be “dependent for support” on the deceased pensioners and is not “gainfully employed” to get the survivorship benefit. In removing the restrictions to qualify for survivorship pension, the Board recognized that “gainful employment” does not imply that a surviving spouse is no longer dependent for support upon the deceased member or pensioner.

The Family Code clearly defines that “Support comprises everything indispensable for sustenance, dwelling, clothing, medical attendance, education and transportation, in keeping with the financial capacity of the family.”

The strict qualifications on who gets the survivorship pension is also widely perceived to be a move to further preserve the funds of the GSIS and lengthen its actuarial life. However, the GSIS Board pointed out that “while actuarial stability of the System is of paramount importance, GSIS remains a social service institution which must meet the needs of its members and pensioners.”

The Board however, placed a cap on the survivorship pension to avoid unusually large disparities in pension benefits. In either case, the basic survivorship pension or the total pension to be received by the dependent children shall not exceed 50 percent of the current salary of an undersecretary at Step 1 of the salary matrix under the Salary Standardization Law and its amendments.

Payment of the basic survivorship pension to the dependent spouse shall be discontinued in case the latter remarries, cohabits, or engages in common-law relationship.

In November, the GSIS Management and the Board of Trustees, began a review of GSIS policies that have been the subject of numerous complaints from members, particularly the Premium-Based Policy, the Claims and Loans Interdependency Policy (CLIP) and the grant of survivorship pension to make them more responsive to members and pensioners while giving due consideration to the actuarial life of the System.

“The review of the policies is also in line with the thrusts of the Aquino Administration to institute transparency, accountability and good corporate governance in the bureaucracy,” GSIS President and General Manager Robert G. Vergara said. (GSIS/PIA-Caraga)

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DAR Agusan del Norte leads MOA signing for Community-Based Skills Training

The Department of Agrarian Reform of the province of Agusan del Norte in quadripartite partnership with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Mindanao Cooperative Institute of Technology (MCIT) and Federation of Agrarian Reform Communities Cooperatives (FEDARCCO) have officially signed the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to bring technical education to farmer-beneficiaries in rural Agrarian Reform Communities (ARCs) held at DAR Provincial Office on December 2, 2010.

The Memorandum of Agreement is a unified understanding among the DAR Provincial Office represented by PARO II Andre B. Atega, CEO VI; TESDA Provincial Director Leo V. Velez; MCIT President Rogelio O. Fabe; and FEDARCCO Chairperson Isidro Madaje.

PARO II Andre Atega, CEO VI, said that this quadripartite partnership is a framework which aims to provide community-based skills training program through the Outreach School for Agrarian Reform Communities (OSARC) in order to optimize the skills of the farmer-beneficiaries in managing off-farm and non-farm enterprise and other livelihood. It will result to the creation of opportunities that will lead and set-up economic enterprises and improve the lives of the intended beneficiaries at the community level.”

As stipulated in the MOA, the DAR Agusan del Norte will exert efforts to access financial support to operationalize the running of the said programs, interfacing, and other contingencies.

This initiative was facilitated by DAR Provincial Office of Agusan del Norte and in coordination with Caraga Regional office headed by Director Faisar A. Mambuay. But the novel idea came from FEDARCCO and MCIT.

“The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER) is not simply fragmentation of big landholdings to unleash the full productive potential of the lands in the hands of the tillers but on poverty alleviation program that will bring about overall peace and development goals,” PARO II Andre B. Atega added.

On the other hand, TESDA, together with the MCIT, will provide group teachers and experts to conduct effective technical education and skills development trainings.

TESDA Provincial Director Leo V. Velez said, “This is a tangible evidence of the collaborative effort between government and academe in bringing effective technical knowledge and skill to rural Agrarian Reform Communities for farmers and other residents of ARCs who want to acquire skills but have no money for transportation to attend classes in the city.”

The FEDARCCO also played a vital role in the success of this program. They have devised a criteria on the recruitment process and identify the qualified beneficiary who can avail the skills-enhancement program.

Skills-enhancement program is one of the department’s initiatives in sustaining equal opportunities which aims to help those who cannot afford to go to college and can avail of government’s educational opportunities. (Gil E. Miranda, DAR-Agusan del Norte/PIA-Caraga)

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LGU Butuan set to release 19M PEI and cash gift

BUTUAN CITY - The Sangguniang Panglunsod of Butuan recently approved two resolutions granting Productivity Enhancement Incentive (PEI) and Cash Gifts to city hall employees.

Assistant City Budget Officer Josefina Morta said the city government has allocated 19 million pesos for the almost 8M cash gift and 11M PEI to be released before December 15, 2010.

PEI is in connection with Administrative Order No. 3, signed by President Benigno S. Aquino III, with section 4 allowing the granting of PEI “determined by the Sanggunian depending on the LGU financial capability”.

It was learned, the city government have savings this year which enable the Amante administration to provide bonus for all of its employees.

The Resolution 216-2010 approved by the Sanggunian during its regular session held on December 3 stated that all elective and appointive officials and employees including the contractual employees who are required to observe regular working hours will be receiving PEI equivalent to one month basic salary.

This would mean that a total of 975 regular employees of the local government of Butuan will receive PEI equivalent to one month salary, while the 2,057 job orders shall be granted 5,000 pesos and those hired on honorarium basis shall receive 2,000 pesos.

Resolution 217-2010 also approved on December 3 grants cash gifts to the job order workers, contract of service, and hired on honorarium basis.

It was emphasized in said resolution that in exercising prudence in government spending has greatly contributed in reversing overspending in previous months of 2010 and such accomplishments were achieved through the unwavering support, commitment and collaborative efforts of these workers.

In gratitude and with the Christmas season, the city government shall grant cash gift to employees which will depend on the length of service to the city government.

Covered by the approved resolution are: 1) those hired on contract of service, job orders and emergency hiring - 5,000 pesos; 2) those hired on honorarium basis - 2,000 pesos;

3) personnel who have rendered 3 months but less than 4 months (40%); 4) 2 months but less than 3 months (30%); 5) 1 month but less than 2 months (20%); 6) less than one month (10%).

However, the main gift of the city government for the city hall employees is the increase of their salary starting January 2011 as contained in the proposed 2011 budget which is expected to be approved before the end of the year.

Local Budget Circular No. 95 clearly states that the implementation of the second tranche of the modified salary schedule for local government employees shall take effect not earlier than January 1, 2011. (Jocelyn E. Morano, Radyo ng Bayan Butuan/PIA-Caraga)

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POLICE REPORTS

By PO3 Philip Amer Posas Mazo

Report on carnapping

A resident of FC Dagani St, P-1 Brgy 5, Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte reported to Cabadbaran Municipal Police Station (MPS) that his single motorcycle was stolen on 10 December 2010 around 1:O5 PM. Mr Rashde Tale y Dela Victoria a 22 years old, self employed said that he parked his motorcycle in front of RHEMA SCHOOL at Asis St. Cabadbaran, Agusan del Norte when it was allegedly stolen.

The vehicle is a black/white XRM single motorcycle bearing plate number LO 3578 with chassis number XRM 16027164 and engine number XRM 16E027164.

Upon receipt of the report, Cabadbaran MPS immediately conducted a follow-up investigation to identify the possible suspect/s & recovery of the motorcycle. (PNP-13/PIA-Caraga)

Report on robbery

On December 11, 2010 around 3:00 o’clock dawn, a establishment named Michelle Farm Supply at Libres St. Taglatawan, Bayugan, Agusan del Sur owned & managed by Mr Isidro Daquipel y Calsado a 48 years old, businessman was allegedly ransacked by unidentified persons. Personnel of Bayugan MPS led by PO3 Nestor Rasonabe immediately proceeded to the crime scene upon receipt of the report & conducted on scene investigation.

Initial investigation disclosed that the suspects gained entry to the store by removing the padlocks of one of the roll-up doors and once inside, they pulled out and carted a Mosler Safety Vault weighing 2OO kilos containing undetermined amount of cash money, land titles, post dated checks & personal checks. Further investigation revealed that the suspects used a black Pick Up vehicle with a camper shell but without plate number as their gate away vehicle. (PNP-13/PIA-Caraga)

Report on vehicular accident

On December 10, 2010 around 3:00 PM at KM 8, P-5 Brgy Don Alijandro, San Luis, Agusan del Sur, a 7 year old Angeline Ugyam y Enarceso was bumped by a white Dump Truck with a plate number LCT 447 allegedly driven by Leopoldo Nemeño y Nuer of legal age & a resident of Brgy Doña Flavia, San Luis, Agusan del Sur. Victim died upon impact while the driver suspect fled to unknown direction after the incident. San Luis MPS tok cognizance of the case.

On December 11, 2010 around 9:45 AM at the National Highway Purok Avocado, Brgy San Agustin Norte, Tandag, Surigao del Sur, one Jhonnot Ortiz Acanan, an 8 YO resident of the mentioned place was accidentally bumped by a Bachelor Express Bus with plate number LYE 112 and body number 3060. The bus was driven by Janilo Granaderos y Quizada 45 YO, married and a resident of Brgy Dagocdoc, Tandag SDS. Vicitm sustained multiple injuries at the different parts of his body and was immediately brought to Adela Serra Ty Memorial Center at Tandag SDS for medical treatment. The driver with his driven bus voluntarily surrendered to Tandag PS and now detained for proper disposition. (PNP-13/PIA-Caraga)

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Legarda lauds Camotes Is. mayors’ proactive stance on climate change, urges other LGUs to do the same

As climate talks in Cancun, Mexico close, Senator Loren Legarda today commended the mayors of Camotes Islands in Cebu Province for taking concrete steps to mitigate the effects of climate change.

“I am glad that more people are now conscious about climate change. More local government units (LGUs) are seeing the importance of disaster preparedness and are joining the UN’s campaign on disaster resilience. I laud the mayors of the municipalities of San Francisco, Poro, Tudela, and Pilar of Camotes Islands for taking action by joining this movement,” Legarda said.

Aware of the increasing threats to its coastal mangrove forests, seagrass and corals, the mayors of the four municipalities have signed up to the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction’s (UNISDR) Making Cities Resilient: My City is Getting Ready campaign.

According to the UNISDR, joining the campaign means that the mayors have committed to several disaster risk reduction (DRR) measures such as relocating communities and key infrastructure that are prone to storm surges, regular clean-up drives along coastal areas, tree planting, establishment of early warning systems, strengthening the Camotes Islands emergency response teams, developing community-based ecotourism and livelihood initiatives, and training teachers and youth organizations on climate change.

Legarda, the UNISDR’s Asia-Pacific Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA), said she hopes that more LGUs would follow the examples of these leaders and of other local chief executives who have already joined the movement. She stressed that DRR efforts must be established and doubled to lessen the impact of disasters.

The Senator also reiterated her call for the efficient and effective implementation of CCA and DRR programs of the national government, noting that the funds for such programs are already included in the 2011 national budget.

Under the 2011 General Appropriations Bill, roughly P44.8-billion is allotted for CCA and DRR measures. This translates to 2.72% of the total national budget, surpassing the one percent minimum requirement put forth in the 2010 Manila Call for Action, which was forged by Asian Parliamentarians at the recent UNISDR consultative meeting on DRR.

“I urge the National Economic Development Authority to develop a mechanism that will track funds that are allocated for disaster prevention to be able to know if the one-percent benchmark is fulfilled.”

“The proper mindset now is to be proactive, rather than reactive; the appropriate policy would be to focus on disaster prevention measures, rather than on post-disaster efforts. By doing so, calamity funds need not be increased and the government can save more on relief and rehabilitation funds, which can be spent instead for vital social services,” Legarda concluded. (Office of Senator Loren Legarda/PIA-Caraga)