Ex-ombudsman hits back at GSIS management, questions deals

Lawrence Agcaoili - The Philippine Star
Ex-ombudsman hits back at GSIS management, questions deals
In a letter, Gutierrez told The STAR that the supposed findings sent to GSIS management from an anonymous “whistleblowing complaint” received last March 28 are clearly erroneous.
GSIS Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — Former ombudsman Ma. Merceditas Gutierrez lashed back at the management of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) after the state-run pension fund manager questioned her eligibility as a member of the board of trustees.

In a letter, Gutierrez told The STAR that the supposed findings sent to GSIS management from an anonymous “whistleblowing complaint” received last March 28 are clearly erroneous.

As ombudsman during the term of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Gutierrez said she is qualified to sit as a trustee of GSIS representing the legal profession, as mandated under Presidential Decree 1146 that amended Republic Act 8291 or the GSIS Charter.

“As a former acting secretary of justice, chief presidential legal counsel and ombudsman, there can be no doubt that the undersigned is a recognized member of the legal profession,” she stressed.

Gutierrez added that she has been part of the civil service since 1974 and has spent four decades in government.

“It therefore defies all logic and understanding how the GSIS management could come to the conclusion that she is not a member of the GSIS. It bears stressing that under Section 4 of the GSIS Charter, membership is not lost through separation from service,” she said.

Gutierrez questioned the validity of the supposed investigation ordered by GSIS president and general manager Jose Arnulfo Veloso, due to a patent lack of observance of due process, as she was never afforded the opportunity to answer the complaint.

According to her, she “meets and exceeds the minimum qualifications for Board Members set forth under Government-Owned or -Controlled Corporations, Memorandum Circular No. 2012-05, without having any of the disqualifications.”

Gutierrez then turned the tables on the GSIS management and questioned the investments made by the state insurer using the money of government workers.

“As a final note, the letter from the GSIS management is obviously tainted with vindictiveness and bad faith. It is no secret in the GSIS that the undersigned has been extremely critical of GSIS management actions that are undeniably violative of the GSIS Charter, its implementing rules and regulations and related internal guidelines,” she added.

According to her, she has in the past called out GSIS management for acting contrary to other laws, rules and regulations pertaining to the civil service, graft and corruption, ethical standards for public officers and government audit.

Gutierrez said she earned the ire of GSIS officials for scrutinizing investment proposals that do not comply with the GSIS Charter and its investment policy guidelines (IPG).

“These include investments not allowed under the GSIS Charter, and those that fail to meet IPG requirements relating to market capitalization and ownership limitations, among others,” she said.

“Hence, the GSIS management would want to see the undersigned out of the GSIS Board of Trustees for obvious reasons.”

In April 2023, GSIS spent P1.46 billion to acquire a two percent stake in Nickel Asia Corp., the country’s largest producer of nickel ore.

The state-run pension fund management spent another P1.45 billion in November 2023 to acquire 100 million preferred shares of Altenergy Holdings Corp. at P14.50 apiece.

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