OCTOBER 16, 2019 – As he approaches his 100th day in office on 17 October 2019, Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) Director General Jeremiah Belgica on Wednesday presented the 99-day report of the Authority under his leadership at the Malacañang Press Briefing Room.

On 3 July 2019, almost a year after the enactment of R.A. 11032 on 28 May 2019, President Duterte appointed Atty. Jeremiah Belgica as the first ever Director General of ARTA, who thereafter took oath on 8 July 2019 and assumed office on 9 July 2019.

Within his first 99 days in office, DG Belgica has set a clear direction for ARTA. The Authority’s efforts to curb bureaucratic red tape has been narrowed down into two main functions: the enforcement of the law and the empowerment of government agencies to be able to streamline their systems and processes.

In just two weeks since DG Belgica’s appointment, he immediately pushed for the much-awaited signing of the Law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR). Said IRR was signed on 17 July 2019 by DG Belgica, together with Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez and Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chair Alicia dela Rosa-Bala, thereby cementing the law and the Authority’s mandate to curb red tape, avert corrupt practices in the government, and to improve the country’s competitiveness.

By virtue of the automatic approval provision (Section 10) of R.A. 11032, ARTA has released several Orders following investigations based on mounting complaints received against certain agencies. Within the past three months, ARTA had released an order for the automatic approval of 3,120 pending applications with LTFRB for Certificate of Public Convenience, four applications for accreditation of external auditors and auditing firms with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the automatic approval/renewal of a total of 3,125 applications with the Food and Drug Administration.

The Authority, in implementation of its mandate to investigate violations of ARTA, had also filed cases against erring government officials. DG Belgica, together with Deputy Director General Ernesto Perez, filed to the CSC a case against a cashier of the Register of Deeds of Davao City and a preliminary investigation report against officials of LTFRB. He also filed a case to the Office of the Ombudsman against Mayor Lester D. De Sagun of San Nicolas, Batangas at the Office of the Ombudsman for violation of the Local Government Code and the R.A. 11032, and against the Registrar of Deeds of ROD San Pablo, Laguna for violation of R.A. 11032 and the Revised Administrative Code of 1987 on the Civil Service Commission.

Although the law has given ARTA enforcement power, removing the erring people in the existing system is just the first step. The bigger task of ARTA is the streamlining of processes and the re-engineering of government systems.

Pursuant to this, ARTA has completed eight batches of that Basic Regulatory Impact Assessment Trainings, rolled-out the guidelines of the Citizen’s Charter, and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with DICT for the establishment of a National Business One-Stop Shop (NBOSS), among other initiatives.

To add to this, ARTA will be launching the NEHEMIA (National Effort on the Harmonization of Efficient Measures of Interrelated Agencies) Program by January 2020. This program aims to streamline and reengineer the systems and processes of agencies with interrelated services. The NEHEMIA Program is a streamlining challenge for targeted agencies to reduce costs and steps by 52% in 52 weeks in 2020.

“I can’t believe it’s only been a hundred days but from what I’ve seen so far, the future is bright. With the commitment given to me by the different heads of agencies I’ve talked to, the stories relayed to me by the government employees, and the support bestowed upon me by the general masses, I know that our country is ready for real change towards a smarter and better Philippines.” The ARTA czar said.