GSIS members: watch your bank
GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - January 2, 2017 - 12:00am

Government workers must be told what will happen to their billions of retirement pesos in the insolvent depository.

GSIS members have been had many times over. Presidents played with their retirement mutual fund like personal cash. Political appointees invested those billions in worthless companies. Two of those were banks of business cronies that were bailed out of insolvency on Malacañang’s behest. That resulted in the pointless establishment decades ago of a thrift bank owned 99.6 percent by GSIS. It was, in short, a mere cash cow.

As with any depository run by political stooges, the GSIS Family Bank came short of cash several times. Each time, the parent GSIS had had to recapitalize it with multibillion pesos. Supervision by the new bureaucratic Governance Commission on Government Corporations only led to sloppier operations. As the financial bleeding couldn’t be stanched, the Bangko Sentral placed GFB under receivership last May. Two months later the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. (PDIC), as receiver, invited private financial institutions to buy up the GFB.

The ailing GFB still had some value: P2.4 billion in assets, P500 million in cash, intact deposits, and a network of 22 branches. Yet no one bit, as the PDIC suddenly changed the rules midstream and doubled the asking price. Last Nov. the PDIC announced to just close the bank and liquidate the assets.

The GFB and the parent GSIS owe explanations to the government employees who own them. So do the Bangko Sentral, PDIC, and Governance Commission that squeezed GFB of funds. Not to forget, also the 0.4-percent political minority. Foremost of the questions they should answer is whether the GSIS members can recover their billions of retirement pesos in the insolvent GFB.

Criminal charges might be in order against those who ran the GFB to the ground. There allegedly was sneakiness in the moves of certain officials just before the presidential election and right after a new admin was to take over.

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Tomorrow it’s back to work – and to the traffic jams in Mega Manila. With motorists caught in gridlocks for 300 hours on average last year, they had much time to think up solutions. Reader Engr. Alex G. Serrano emailed his ideas. Excerpts:

“A network of elevated covered walkways, inspired by Arch. Felino Palafox Jr., would ease vehicle traffic along EDSA and improve pedestrian mobility in central business districts (CBDs). My idea is to build in two phases. Phase I would be walkways connecting the CBDs to EDSA; Phase II, a linear walkway connecting Makati to Cubao, QC.

“Phase I shall include MRT3 Ayala station to McKinley, accessing to Bonifacio High Street, Burgos Circle, Market Market, SM Aura, and strategic commercial buildings. Also from MRT3 Ayala to SM and Landmark, along Makati Avenue to Buendia and Pasong Tamo, accessing Makati Cinema Square and Glorietta. Then, from MRT3 EDSA Shaw to Shangrila and Megamall connecting commercial buildings along Vargas, ADB, and Meralco Avenues, and back to EDSA Ortigas and Robinsons Galleria. Lastly, MRT3 Cubao connected to Araneta Center, Gateway, Manhattan, SM Cubao, and Ali Mall.

“Phase II shall traverse MRT3 Ayala, Estrella bus stop, MRT3 Guadalupe, MRT3 Boni/Pioneer, MRT3 Shaw/Crossing, EDSA/Ortigas, Robinsons Galleria, Santolan/Camp Aguinaldo bus stop, and MRT3 Cubao.

“Consolidate the planning of Housing, Roads, and Railways to complement each other’s functionality. The government should secure for low-cost housing all suitable areas along new roads and railways – from planning, bidding, and execution. (People will then take public transportation from and to homes.) Expand the MRT/LRT rail network to include a southern loop and a northern loop.

“Southern Loop: LRT1 extension from Baclaran to Bacoor (awarded); Bacoor to Dasmarinas (for bidding); Dasmarinas to Biñan along CALAX; and Biñan to LRT2 Santolan Pasig along PNR right-of-way and C5.

“Northern Loop: MRT7 from EDSA/North Avenue to San Jose del Monte (awarded); MRT7 extension from San Jose del Monte to Bocaue along planned new road; Bocaue to Monumento (included in Clark to Manila Line); Monumento to EDSA/North Ave (by LRT1).

“We also need a new railway line from Calamba to Sto. Tomas along SLEX; from Sto. Tomas to Lipa along Star Tollway; and from Lipa to Batangas.

“Lastly, a new railway from Subic to Cabanatuan along Olongapo-Gapan Road.”

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

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