30 September 2021– The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), along with other key government agencies, launched a Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) containing guidelines on the processing of the benefits of uniformed personnel and their legal beneficiaries.
JMC No. 2, Series of 2021 or the Guidelines on the Processing of Retirement Benefits, Gratuities Claims, and Other Entitlements of Uniformed Personnel and their Beneficiaries aims to provide a comprehensive, simplified, and unified or integrated set of guidelines and streamlined procedures for uniformed personnel and their beneficiaries.
It also aims to fast-track the submission of necessary requirements by the claimants and the processing of claims by reducing the documentary requirements, simplifying the process, and regionalizing and automating the entire process.
This issuance was crafted by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Streamlining the Processing of Uniformed Services Benefit Claims that was formed after the signing of JMC No. 1, Series of 2021 on 20 May 2021.
The IATF is headed by ARTA’s Undersecretary Carlos F. Quita, Deputy Director General for Administration and Finance, a retired Brigadier General of the Philippine Army.
The group is composed of officials from the Authority, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM), Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).
Since the IATF was formed, it has facilitated the processing of the benefit claims for the kin of soldiers who perished in a C-130 plane crash in Sulu last 4 July 2021 and resolved the delayed payment of PNP Pensions to Survivors and Total Payment Physical Disability (TPPD) retirees in September 2021.
With the release of JMC No. 2, s. of 2021, claimants shall only be required to submit the relevant application form, letter of intent, or other relevant documents and requirements as stated in the agency’s Citizen Charter to begin the processing of claims.
Claimants will also be allowed to submit certified true copies of documentary requirements to initiate the processing of their claims, but their benefits will only be released after the submission of the original copies.
Government agencies will also be required to process and consolidate the required documents internally to prevent claimants from going around various offices within agencies and to adhere to the processing time provided in their Citizen’s Charter.
Within three months from the signing of this JMC, uniformed services will sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and enter into a Data-Sharing Agreement with the PSA which is seen to further streamline the processing of benefit claims for uniformed personnel.
Under this agreement, agencies will be able to utilize the Records Data Matching Service for ease of verification of births, deaths, and marriages; and the Batch Request Entry System (BREQS) for the facilitated copy issuance of civil registry documents (CRD).
Claimants should also no longer be required to personally appear before the relevant government agencies to process their claims as agencies will be required to implement appropriate mechanisms localize their processes within three months of the effectivity of the JMC.
Government agencies will also be ordered to implement measures on the use of digital signatures to sign and verify documents and digital certificates for authenticity and validity purposes.
Along with ARTA Usec. Quita, Secretary Jeremiah B. Belgica, ARTA Director General, led the virtual ceremonial launching of the JMC.
Also in attendance were Undersecretary Eduardo V. Bringas, ARTA Deputy Director General for Legal;
Assistant Secretary for Peace and Order (OASPO) Manuel B. Felix of the DILG; Commissioner Vitaliano N. Aguirre II, Vice Chairman and Executive Officer of the NAPOLCOM; Dir. Myrna DP Medina, Acting Deputy Executive Officer of the NAPOLCOM; Engr. Marizza Grande, Assistant National Statistician of the Civil Registration and Central Support Office of the PSA; PMGen. Rolando J. Hinanay, Director for Personnel and Records Management of the PNP; BGen. Reno P. Tolentino, Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, J1 of AFP; CG Commodore Ferdinan B. Picar, Chief of Coast Guard Staff and Chairman of the PCG Committee on Anti-Red Tape; SSupt. Alma G. Abacahin, Director for Retirement and Benefits Administrative Service of the BFP; and JCSupt. Dennis U. Rocamora, Deputy Chief for Operations of the Jail Bureau of the BJMP.
In his message, ARTA Sec. Belgica underscored how streamlining services can provide retired uniformed personnel time to spend with their loved ones, something that they were not able to get while dedicating their lives in service to the country.
“This JMC seeks to afford our uniformed personnel and their loved ones with an efficient processing of their claims so that they can spend their rest of their time with their loved ones. Having a lengthy process is but an affront to our uniformed personnel who have already dedicated much of their lives in serving our Country. Depriving them of this time with their families is something that we cannot countenance,” he said.
“Our uniformed personnel have already dedicated and sacrificed a good deal of time serving our country. Likewise, their loved ones have also endured the time spent apart from them, and in some cases, it is for good. Truly, we can never turn back time or make up for the lost chances. We can, however, show our appreciation for their hard work and dedication to protecting our country by giving them time. This is probably the most valuable reward they will receive,” he added.
ARTA Usec. Quita expressed his gratefulness to the members of the IATF and vowed to continue working so more uniformed personnel enjoy the convenience of the streamlined processing of their benefit claims.
“These are really good initiatives by ARTA and I hope that we get to help as much uniformed personnel as we can. We are really looking forward to getting to work,” he said.
DILG Asec. Felix highlighted the vital role of uniformed personnel amid the COVID-19 pandemic. During this period, numerous uniformed personnel were deployed at checkpoints, hospitals, and barangays to ensure the timely distribution of government aid, assist in medical emergencies, and maintain peace and order.
“From their usual roles, our uniformed personnel played even bigger roles at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic… it is only right that we match their valor and commitment as our way of demonstrating that the government takes care of its own,” he said.
Meanwhile, NAPOLCOM Commissioner Aguirre congratulated the IATF, led by ARTA, for the JMC that will allow NAPOLCOM, as well as other government agencies, to further streamline their processes and procedures with regard to benefit claims.
“I would like to commend the leadership of ARTA, starting with the indefatigable Secretary Jeremiah Belgica… I really commend the Anti-Red Tape Authority, as well as the supporting undersecretaries and employees. Ang ARTA, talaga pong napakagaling ng kanilang ginagawa upang mastreamline ang pagbibigay ng ayuda at pensions sa ating mga kapulisan at sa kanilang mga beneficiaries,” he said.
Other present government officials also lauded ARTA, as well as the entire IATF, for its efforts to streamline the processes related to uniformed personnel benefit claims, and pledged to continue supporting this initiative.
The said issuances stemmed from President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s directives in March 2021 to automate and speed up the processing of death benefit claims of uniformed personnel.
This, as some legal beneficiaries of uniformed personnel, who live in the provinces, must travel all the way to Metro Manila just to process their claims.