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GSIS draws flak for Luna painting purchase

- Katherine Adraneda -
The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) drew flak yesterday after it acquired on Sunday the 110-year-old oil painting, "Parisian Life" by Juan Luna at an auction in Hong Kong for P46 million.

The Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement for Government Employees (Courage) questioned the acquisition which tapped the contributions of government employees nationwide.

"It is appalling for us GSIS members to learn only from the news how they spent our money, which came from our sweat and blood," Courage said in a statement.

The group lambasted GSIS president Winston Garcia for spending "billions from our hard-earned money where they please."

"If officials such as (Garcia) can spend billions and millions from our hard-earned money where they please, the possibility of using the money spent for the painting could have been used to increase the benefits of GSIS members," Courage president Ferdinand Gaite said.

"While we too would like a national heritage, like the Juan Luna painting, to remain in the Philippines, we strongly believe that the money should not have been taken from our fund," Gaite said.

"The money could have been used to increase retirement and pension benefits, opened up new windows for loans for its members and speed up the payment of other benefits. Now, who will replace the P46 million taken from us? Certainly, not the cash-strapped national government," Gaite added.

After winning the bidding on Sunday, Garcia justified the purchase by saying the money came from the GSIS’ P20-billion surplus.

But Gaite refuted Garcia’s claim and asked why the pension fund should increase members’ contributions if it was really awash with cash.

Gaite said employees’ contributions already amount to nine percent of their average monthly compensation limit of P16,000 plus another two percent in excess of the limit and yet a GSIS resolution seeks to increase members’ contributions by another nine percent. — With reports from Sammy Santos, Cecille Suerte Felipe

BUT GAITE

CECILLE SUERTE FELIPE

FERDINAND GAITE

GARCIA

GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES

GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM

HONG KONG

JUAN LUNA

MONEY

PARISIAN LIFE

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