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Press Release

Gov't executives convicted for non-remittance of GSIS
23 August 2017

          The Office of the Ombudsman secured the conviction of three executives for failing to comply with the mandatory remittance of GSIS premiums as required under the revised Government Service Insurance System Act or Republic Act No. 8291. In two separate Decisions promulgated by the Sandiganbayan in August 2017, the court convicted former Mayor Tahira Ismael and Municipal Treasurer Aida Ajijon of Lantawan, Basilan, of violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019) and Section 3 of the GSIS Act.

           The two were sentenced to imprisonment of six to 10 years for graft and two to four years for violating the GSIS act.  The court also imposed upon them the accessory penalties of absolute perpetual disqualification from holding public office and prohibition from practicing any profession or calling licensed by the government.

          Court records showed that the local executives deliberately failed to remit contributions from July 2001 to February 2003 totalling P3,118,005.07.  As a result of this administrative lapse, the loan privileges of employees of Lantawan were suspended to the injury and prejudice of the municipal government.

         Accused Ismael tried to cover up for the non-remittance, explaining that Ajijon failed to prepare the corresponding vouchers for the remittance.

          “This argument is skewed,” stated Justice Reynaldo Cruz, who penned the 02 August 2017 Decision.

          “The Local Government Code explicitly grants the municipal mayor the power to exercise general supervision and control over the activities of the municipal government, which carries the responsibility of ensuring that all executive officials and employees of the municipality faithfully discharge their duties and functions as provided by law,” the Decision states.

          The court added that, “in effect the proximate cause of the non-remittance of the GSIS contributions can be traced from the failure of accused Ismael, as the municipal mayor, to exercise her power of general supervision and control over all the activities of the municipality.

          “Accused Ismael cannot feign ignorance about the unremitted GSIS contributions as [these] statements confirmed that she was fully aware of the non-remittance thereof. And, despite her knowledge of the problem, she ignored the advice given to her and chose not to remit the GSIS contributions. In the same vein, accused Ajijon is not blameless, as the Municipal Treasurer, she is duty bound to advice the Municipal Mayor about the disbursement of local funds and matters relating to public finance,” the Decision narrated.

          In a separate Decision promulgated on 07 August 2017, Jose Sarasola II, former General Manager of the Philippine National Railways was also found guilty of violating the GSIS Act. This developed after the accused decided to enter a plea of guilty to the lesser offense of violation of the GSIS law.  In this case, Sarasola failed to remit 49 contributions of a certain Benjamin Guinto from June 2000 to May 2004, all totaling P52,632.28.

          The Sandiganbayan ordered the accused to pay a fine of P5,000.00 for each count, or a total of P245,000.00.

          Under the GSIS Law, the accountability for the deduction and remittance of GSIS contributions falls squarely upon the head of office and other officials designated by law. ###