Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go (File photo)
MANILA – Senator Christopher Lawrence Go on Tuesday commended the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) for heeding his call to establish loan programs with flexible payment terms that could help its members manage the financial and economic fallout of the pandemic.
“I am grateful that at the time when our people are still reeling from the adverse impacts of the (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic, the GSIS leadership heeded our call and took extra steps to be of great help to their members,” Go said in a statement.
He earlier called on the GSIS to develop a small loans program for its members, as well as a tuition loan program to help families pay for school fees and an e-transition loan program for public school teachers to purchase laptops and other gadgets in aid of the transition to online learning.
In response, GSIS developed the Financial Assistance Loan – Educational Loan (GFAL-EL) program to help its members pay up to 100 percent of their beneficiaries’ tuition fees and other school expenses while they are still in college.
To avail of the 10-year-old program with a five-year grace period, beneficiaries of members must be enrolled in an undergraduate program of a private or public tertiary institution.
As a complementary program to GFAL-EL, the GSIS also created the Computer Loan (GCL) program to help its members purchase a computer unit for their online learning and work-from-home needs.
Under the program, members could borrow PHP30,000 with an interest rate of 6 percent per annum, which will be repayable over a term not exceeding 36 months.
The GCL will be open to active members with permanent appointments.
Earlier this year, Go also appealed to the GSIS management to waive the penalties for delayed remittances, release pensions early, and grant emergency loans to its members, pensioners, and beneficiaries.
Heeding his call, the state pension agency granted the requests and also announced the online GSIS Covid-19 Emergency Loan program through which its members may take out a loan of PHP40,000 that is payable in three years at only 6 percent interest per annum.
The loan is covered by insurance and is deemed fully paid in case of the borrower’s demise.
In his capacity as chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, Go also appealed for increased insurance benefits to reduce the financial burden on the surviving families of health workers who suffered fatal Covid-19 infections.
The GSIS responded by creating the Bayanihan Fund for Front-liners (BFF), which provides the surviving families of government-employed health workers an additional PHP500,000 in insurance benefits.
The BFF program also covers other GSIS members involved in providing health care and assistance to Covid-19 stricken patients, such as cardiovascular technologists, medical technologists, X-ray technicians, pulmo-therapists, pulmonologists, nursing aides, pharmacists, ambulance drivers, administrative staff, housekeeping, and security guards, among others.
Benefits under the BFF program were first released last June.
In a brief response, GSIS President and General Manager Rolando Macasaet assured that the agency has sufficient funds for the loan programs asked by Go.
“Sang-ayon po kami sa panawagan niya. Ito ang panahon na dapat tulungan natin ang mga kababayan nating makaahon mula sa paghihirap na dulot ng Covid-19. Kaya nagpapasalamat din kami kay Senador Go sa patuloy niyang pagiging tulay ng mga ordinaryong Pilipino sa pamahalaan (We concur with his call. This is the time to help our countrymen recover from the hardships brought by Covid-19. That is why we are also thankful to Senator Go for continuously acting as a conduit between the ordinary Filipinos and the government),” Macasaet said.
Meanwhile, Go encouraged other government financial institutions (GFIs), including the Social Security System and Land Bank of the Philippines, to provide similar programs to their borrowers who have been affected in a variety of ways by the Covid outbreak.
“Such assistance will help the borrowers face short-term setbacks and allow communities to recover,” he said. (PNA)