By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
The Department of Education (DepEd) on Saturday assured that it will continue to coordinate with the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) so that its member-borrowers who have past due loans will still be able to update their accounts with the extension of the deadline to Oct. 31.
DepEd secured the assurance of GSIS that member-borrowers who have past due loans will still be able to update these accounts, with automatic waiver of penalties and surcharges, one month after the original September 30 deadline set by the social insurance institution.
“We received a call from GSIS President and General Manage Jesus Clint Aranas bearing good news for our teachers and other personnel – that they are extending the deadline until October 31,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said.
Last September 7, Briones sent GSIS a letter appealing for the extension of the September 30 deadline to December 31 to give its 122,926 affected member-borrowers sufficient time to settle or update their past due accounts such that penalties, surcharges, and compounded accrued interest may be waived.
DepEd has also requested the GSIS for the condonation of compounded accrued interest on past due loans.
In a meeting last September 24, Executive Vice President Nora Saludares expressed to the Department that “GSIS may give consideration to DepEd’s request for an extension.”
“Given the huge population of its workforce, DepEd recognizes the challenges in communicating the urgency of the GSIS Conso-Loan in such a short period of time,” said Briones. “Many of the affected personnel are not aware of the discontinuance of the automatic waiver of penalties and surcharges, and we want to buy them ample time to renew or avail of the Conso-Loan,” she added.
Briones noted while the one-month extension may be a “sigh of relief” for several affected personnel, she assured that the department, through her and Finance-Disbursements and Accounting Undersecretary Victoria Catibog, are “still in direct negotiation” with Aranas and Saludares, respectively, “so that the deadline may be further extended.”
Heeding the appeal of the DepEd, the GSIS on Friday announced a one-month extension for all its members to settle their past due loan accounts.
GSIS, in a statement posted on its website, noted that the deadline for all GSIS members to settle past due loan accounts to one more month or until October 31, 2018 has been extended after the appeal from the DepEd.
“We extended the deadline to give more time for DepEd employees as well as other members with overdue accounts to benefit from the condoned penalties and surcharges of the Enhanced Consolidated Loan Program,” said Aranas.
Groups such as the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines and the Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) have been denouncing the GSIS policy on loan interests.
Both groups have been calling the attention of GSIS and the DepEd to help teachers – who have loans – and ensure that no penalties and surchargers will be imposed on them.
The groups argue that teachers “should not pay the accrued interests for these are not their fault.”
For TDC National Chairperson Benjo Basas, the accrued loan interests “were not the fault of teachers and it would be unjust to penalize them because of irresponsible individuals in both the GSIS and DepEd.”
Earlier, TDC noted that DepEd is tasked to deduct thru its automatic payroll deduction system (APDS) the amortization payable to the GSIS once a teacher-member avail of the loans offered by the latter.
“However, the DepEd, for any reason misses on the monthly deductions which resulted to compounded interests and other penalties charged against the teachers,” Basas said.
Meanwhile, DepEd noted that there was a “miscommunication” in terms of billing mainly due to differences in the software programs that both agencies use. Catibog assured that the concerned personnel of both agencies are currently coordinating to “fix the issue.”