Despite being slapped with libel charges, Antonio Tinio, chairperson of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said his group will continue to expose what they deem as ‘exploitative and illegal’ policies of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) under the leadership of Winston Garcia.
BY RONALYN V. OLEA
In November last year, Antonio Tinio, chairperson of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) received subpoenas from the Office of the City Prosecutor in Pasay City. He has been charged with five cases of libel.
All the charges were filed by Winston Garcia, president and general manager of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS). The GSIS is a social insurance institution for government employees.
All of the cases refer to Tinio’s statements criticizing the GSIS’ sale of its Manila Electric Company’s (Meralco) shares to San Miguel Corporation (SMC).
Early this year, the GSIS bought 300,963,189 shares in Meralco at P80.91 ($1.657 at the current exchange rate of $1=P48.80) each and sold them last Oct. 28, 2008 to SMC at P90 ($1.84) each, payable in three years.
Quoted by at least three newspapers, Tinio said the action of Garcia – who sits as member of the SMC board, is “inimical to the interest of teachers who stand to suffer from the bargain sale of Meralco shares payable in three years without interest.”
Tinio said that Garcia played double, yet conflicting, roles in the transaction. He was on the board of both the seller (GSIS) and the buyer (SMC).He said further that since Garcia sits on both boards he could be suspected of handing over the Meralco shares to SMC on a silver platter.
The ACT leader said Garcia’s earlier decision to invest big time in foreign and local stocks has proved “disastrous” and “ill-timed” with the GSIS members ending up at the losing end of those transactions.
Antonio Tinio, president of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, is undeterred by the libel suit filed against him by GSIS President and General Manager Winston Garcia.
Tinio also said the Ombudsman and other government regulatory agencies should investigate Garcia. He added that it is not only the teachers’ money that Garcia has been gambling with, but also the contributions of other state workers, including those employed by the Ombudsman and government regulatory agencies.
Also charged with libel are columnists who tackled the GSIS-SMC deal and who quoted Tinio.
Garcia filed libel charges against Dan Mariano, columnist, and Rene Bas, editor in chief of Manila Times, Federico Pascual Jr., columnist and Ramon Lim, opinion editor of the Philippine Star; Raul Valino, Lito Gagni, columnists and Lyn Resurrection, opinion editor of Business Mirror.