GSIS income jumps fourfold YOY, in first quarter of 2019

State-run Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) recorded a quadruple increase in net income for the first quarter, year-on-year. The first quarter net income increased by Php29.65 billion, from Php9.05 billion last year to Ph38.7 billion this year.

The increase in GSIS’s net income was driven by the rise in stock market values, the increase in interest income, and the increase in premium contributions.

“We are happy to share this good news with our members and pensioners. Our 82nd anniversary celebration in May was made more meaningful knowing that we have fulfilled our commitment to become good stewards of the fund,” GSIS President and General Manager (PGM) Jesus Clint Aranas said.

The increase in net income is due to the rise in the market valuation of financial assets.

Contributing to this increase is GSIS’ public equities portfolio which accounts for about 20% of total assets since the PSE index increased by 6% to 7,920.93 compared to last year’s ending level.

The remaining increase in net income is brought about by the increase in interest income due to GSIS’ new loan programs (such as the GSIS Financial Assistance Loan (GFAL) for personnel of the Department of Education and the GSIS Enhanced Consolidated Salary Loan Plus for members), and the increase in premium contributions due to the increase in active membership from 1.7 million last year to 1.8 million this year. As a result, revenue from premium contributions has grown by 7% for the first quarter, year-on-year.

The total assets ending first quarter 2019 has reached Php1.2 trillion, which is 6% or Php74 billion higher than the end of first quarter 2018.

“We hope that we have set the tone for a productive year ahead. Our members’ and pensioners’ trust will be our inspiration to do better,” GSIS PGM Aranas said.

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DOST – Technology Media Conference on Marine Biodiversity

Technology Media Conference on Marine Biodiversity was held at the PICC, Pasay City last June 4, 2019. DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña, briefed DOST’s media partners about the S&T initiatives in marine biodiversity. Secretary de la Peña and PCAARRD Acting Executive Director Reynaldo V. Ebora, as well as the resource persons: Dr. Fernando P. Siringan of UP-MSI, Dr. Patrick C. Cabaitan of UP-MSI, Dr. Hildie Maria E. Nacorda of UPLB-SESAM, and Dr. Mari-Ann M. Acedera of MRRD-PCAARRD answered questions from the media during the open forum.

PNR to use DOST-made train soon; more units eyed By Philippine News Agency

(FEDERICO CRUZ / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

MANILA — Soon, passengers of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) would be able to use the hybrid electric train (HET) made by engineers of the Department of Science of Technology (DOST).

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Thursday, DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said the HET just needs to undergo some testing, and that Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade has expressed interest to have more units of the DOST-made train.

“The training of PNR drivers and maintenance personnel will start on the first week of March. (That would be) two weeks training, and another two weeks operating the HET without a passenger,” he said.

He added that there is a required 150 hours of validation testing that would take 25 days or one month of 6-hour service operation with passengers.

The possibility of using the HET by April would depend on the PNR, dela Peña said.

At present, there is only one unit of HET from the DOST. Dela Peña said the DOST has always been open to technology adoption. “In the Philippines, of course PNR is the main company (for this train),” he said.

“The good news is that Secretary Tugade expressed his desire to have more units of this DOST hybrid train. Our DOST MIRDC (Metals Industry Research and Development Center) engineers are ready for this should a decision be made,” dela Peña emphasized.

He said Tugade did not mention the number of HET units needed, except the trains are for the PNR.

In July 2018, the DOST led a demo run of HET between PNR Dela Rosa station to PNR EDSA station. The activity was part of the National Science and Technology Week observance.

Launched in 2016, the HET is said to be energy-efficient since it is powered by batteries. The train could run at a speed of about 50 kph and could accommodate 220 passengers, according to DOST.

Apart from HET, the DOST has also developed a hybrid road train.

Salceda: Cancelling activist students’ scholarships is illegal and punishable under Free College Law

Canceling or removing the scholarship of so-called anti-government students, and consequently collecting fees from them, is illegal under the Universal Access to Quality and Tertiary Education Act (UAQTEA) or Free College Law (RA 10931)  and is punishable by six months to one-year imprisonment and a fine of P20,000 to P10,000. 

Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, who originally crafted the UAQTEA in the lower house, said there are only two clear-cut conditions for cancellation of scholarship grants as stipulated under Section 6 of the law: 1) failure to complete the course within one year after its prescribed period for a college degree, and in the case of technical vocational courses, failure  in any course enrolled in during the duration of the program; and 2) failure to comply with admission and retention policies of the institution. 

The lawmaker has joined the chorus of opposition against the proposal by National Youth Commission chairman Ronald Cardema to cancel the scholarships of students who join anti-government rallies and protests, a proposal that has met a flat ‘no’ answer from President Duterte himself. 

Whether they support or oppose the government, Salceda said, students who fail to finish their course within the prescribed period are deemed to have failed in complying with the retention policies of the school and will lose their scholarship privilege. Nothing in the law may be construed as a basis for scholarship cancellation of suspected “anti-government” students. There is no practical process anyway for identifying them, he added.

He said the UAQTEA guarantees free college education regardless of belief or political persuasion of students, or their stand on vital issues, for as long as they are not proven to have broken any law, or the retention policies of the school. The Free College Law, he pointed out, sets only two basic eligibilities for national scholarships or financial assistance — first, the student must be a Filipino citizen and second, he/she must be admitted to a course by an accredited tertiary institution.    

Salceda said the proposal is “violative of the Free College Law and the spirit of universal access to quality education, and diminishes the singular legacy of the Duterte administration.” He stressed that there is also no provision in the law that prohibits scholars from joining protests or from opposing the administration which would curtail the more fundamental freedom of expression particularly, in educational institutions that are training grounds of the youth. 

The Free College Law, signed by Duterte in 2017, now covers 112 state colleges and universities, and 87 accredited local universities and colleges (LUCs) in the country. Some 1,000 of the 1,710 private colleges are beginning to benefit from the Tertiary Education Subsidy, based on the latest government records. 

The UAQTEA disqualifies students from availing of free tuition, if: 1) they have already obtained a bachelor’s degree, or have earned a certificate or diploma for a technical-vocational course equivalent to at least National Certificate III and above; and 2) they have failed in any course enrolled in, during the course of the program.

Salceda said ineligible students “shall be charged the tuition and other school fees, as determined by the respective boards of the SUCs and LUCs, and in the case of the state-run Technical vocational Institutions, to be determined by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. 

The Free College Law finds basis in the 1987 constitution which states that the “quality education is an inalienable right of all Filipinos and it is a policy of the State to protect and promote the rights of all students to quality education in all levels.”  END