By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
The Department of Education (DepEd) assured on Monday that it is coordinating with the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) on the undeducted outstanding loans of teachers and other non-teaching personnel.
DepEd, in a statement, assured its teaching and non-teaching personnel that the agency is “taking steps” to address the problem of undeducted GSIS loans that reportedly resulted in the imposition of penalties, surcharges, and compounded accrued interest.
Understanding the difficulty being faced by affected member-borrowers who truly want to pay and reduce their loans, DepEd said it has already made an appeal to GSIS to “reconsider the payment of their outstanding loans that have accumulated huge interests over the years.”
In a letter to GSIS, DepEd appealed for the extension of the September 30, 2018 deadline to Dec. 31, 2018 for all member-borrowers to update and settle their past due accounts such that penalties and surcharges on their past due loans may be waived. In addition, DepEd has requested the GSIS “for condonation of compounded accrued interest on past due loans.”
Likewise, DepEd is further seeking the possibility of requesting GSIS to “waive imposing surcharges to enable affected member-borrowers to focus on the payment of the principal and the interest.”
“It is understood that interest on GSIS loans form part of the social fund used to pay the benefits and pension of retired government workers, which include DepEd teaching and non-teaching personnel, and cannot be waived,” the Department noted.
DepEd explained that under the Automatic Payroll Deduction System (APDS) of the Department, the “GSIS contributions and loans are among the priority mandatory financial obligations that are automatically deducted from the member-borrower’s salary every month.”
However, DepEd noted that to be able to make the automated deduction, the Department “first has to receive the electronic billing statement from GSIS – which, in the reported cases, were not reflected.” DepEd said that it will meet with GSIS to “look into the reasons why this happened.”
In line with its consistent and continuous efforts to expand employee welfare, DepEd said that it remains “persistent in finding ways to help improve the financial situation of both its teaching and non-teaching personnel and to enable them to retire comfortably after decades of hard work.”
TDC seeks relief
Earlier, the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) called on DepEd and GSIS to “once and for all” resolve the problems of the teachers in relation to their loans so they will not be penalized.
The DepEd, according to the group, is “tasked to deduct the amortization payable to the GSIS once a teacher-member avails of the loans offer by the latter.” However, TDC said that “the DepEd misses on the monthly deductions which resulted to compounded interests and other penalties charged against the teachers.”
TDC National Chairperson Benjo Basas also noted that the GSIS set the deadline to September 30 and if the teachers fail to settle the loans thru over-the-counter payment or renewal of exiting loan, the GSIS will impose the collection of penalties on October 1.
To address this concern, the TDC wrote a letter to the GSIS asking for the extension of period to waive the interests, penalties and surcharges for at least a year.
In a letter addressed to GSIS President and General Manager Atty. Jesus Clint Aranas dated Sept. 12, 2018, TDC requested for clarification on the policy on loan amortization and billing and the impact of the non-deductions of loan payment to the teachers’ account in GSIS.
“Our members have been receiving letters from the GSIS requiring them to settle the loans through over-the-counter payment or though application of loan restructuring until the last day of this month, otherwise, interests and other penalties will be charged,” Basas said in the letter.
The TDC also appealed to both agencies to stop putting the blame on the teachers. The deduction for loan amortization, Basas stressed, is an “obligation” of the DepEd.
Basas added that “this problem should be between the DepEd and GSIS to resolve and stop blaming each other.”Unfortunately, he noted that “both agencies apparently agreed to put the blame on the poor teachers and penalize them.”
This, Basas said, is “unfair for us teacher-members to be burdened by the penalties due to other people’s fault.”