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Anti-red tape initiatives rolled out before September

Saturday, June 13, 2009 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES [ BusinessWorld Online ]

TACLOBAN CITY — The Civil Service Commission (CSC) has given national government agencies and local government units until September this year to put in place measures to combat red tape in their respective offices.

CSC chairman Ricardo Saludo, who was here recently, said there’s a need for the government to immediately act on mounting complaints of corruption.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed the Anti-Red Tape Act 2007, or Republic Act 9465, directing state agencies to come up with a citizen’s charter that would serve as the guideline in the conduct of employees’ duty.

This charter will detail the procedures involving public transactions that include types of services; requirements needed to avail of such services; length of time to deliver such service; fees needed; and procedures in cases of complaints.

Mr. Saludo led the launching of the citizen’s charter in Baybay, Leyte. The municipality, along with Northern Samar province, was chosen as showcase area of the program.

Under the law, each agency is also required to put up a public assistance desk as one way to lessen the problem on bribery and illegal fixers.

"This is our major program this year since this is already a law. This will eliminate fixers," Mr. Saludo told BusinessWorld.

In Northern Samar, 76.8% of towns already have citizen’s charters, Western Leyte has 82%, and Southern Leyte with 76.8%.

About 65% of state universities and colleges in the region have initiated anti-corruption activities.

The law, which took effect in September last year, mandates that government transactions such as applications or renewal of permits, licenses and other documentation should be completed in five working days especially for simple cases and 10 working days for more complex transactions or requests. Signatories in each document must be limited to five.

"If the processing time is shorter, the chance for corruption is lesser," Mr. Saludo said.

He pointed out that a huge amount has been lost from the government’s coffers with the intervention of fixers who promise a shorter transaction period. Government agencies are required to inform the public on why requests are rejected or couldn’t be processed. — Sarwell Q. Meniano


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