Bangsamoro (MNS Photo)

Bangsamoro (MNS Photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is releasing nearly P1 billion to settle unpaid insurance premiums of mostly public school teachers in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

In an e-mailed statement, the DBM said it signed Wednesday a supplemental memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Department of Education (DepEd) in ARMM.

Under the MOA signing, the department will release P991.4 million, of which P891.4 million will be paid to GSIS within 30 days and P100 million without interest within a year.

The payments will cover all arrears for 29,019 DepEd-ARMM personnel, and will be sourced from savings under the 2014 General Appropriations Act.

“For a good while, DepEd personnel in the ARMM were unable to enjoy the full range of GSIS benefits that they were entitled to, including their salary loans and retirement gratuity,” DBM Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad said in the statement.

“Public school teachers actually comprise a remarkable 80 percent of the civil service pool in the ARMM, and many of them have faithfully served their communities for most of their professional lives. Restoring their benefits is only just and fitting,” he added.

The supplemental MOA follows a previous tripartite agreement signed in March 2004, where the DepEd-ARMM agreed to pay its obligations to GSIS within fifteen years of the signing date.

Abad said it is also in line with the Bangsamoro peace pact signed earlier this year, which signals a period of greater socio-economic development in the ARMM.

“The Aquino administration is keen on bringing more education, healthcare, and infrastructure services to this region, besides providing basic public services that Bangsamoro communities previously had little to no access to,” he said.

“The fact that we can now take better care of our DepEd personnel in the ARMM fits very nicely with that,” Abad added.

On March 27, the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed a comprehensive peace agreement to end decades-long armed conflict and pave the prospect of economic development in the region. (MNS)