05 October 2021 –
The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) launched two mobile and web-based platforms that are seen to strengthen its complaints handling, regulatory capacity, and governance.

Secretary Jeremiah B. Belgica, ARTA Director General, and Undersecretary Eduardo V. Bringas, ARTA Deputy Director General for Legal, along with officials from the University of the Philippines Public Administration Research and Extension Services Foundation, Inc.-Regulatory Support Program for National Development (UPPAF-RESPOND), conducted the soft launch of the ARTA Dashboard and ARTA Citizen Services Mobile Application on 01 October 2021.

In his presentation, Bringas, whose office initiated the creation of the two platforms, said the ARTA Dashboard will provide a real-time overview of the agency’s operations and will serve as a mechanism to monitor the progress of priority activities.

The web-based platform will also assist ARTA’s decision-making process using data.

Meanwhile, the ARTA Citizen Services App is an innovative and inclusive system that will allow ordinary citizens to file concerns and complaints before the Authority at the palm of their hands using their smartphone.

It is available for download for Android and will be available for iOS in a few weeks, said UPPAF-RESPOND Technical Consultant Johanne Lim.

Bringas said the mobile app will augment the other ways in which the public can file their concerns and complaints before ARTA, which includes physical submitting and filing at the Authority’s office, through the concerns and complaints page in its website, via email, or through a letter of complaint.

He also said that it will help ARTA in “doing justice to each and every complaint lodged” before it.

“With our vibrant and very energetic Secretary Jeremiah Belgica, the ARTA is now being known by the transacting public and because of that, they have been filing complaints. Suddenly, we are becoming inundated with complaints. That is why we have to act quickly and we have to respond,” he said.

The ARTA Citizen Services App will allow the complainant to attach documentary evidence for the agency’s real-time review.

It will also enable the agency to immediately inform the complainant on whether their concern or complaint is accepted and will be scheduled for a formal hearing or denied.

An ARTA lawyer can also facilitate an online video call between them and the complainant for quick feedback, where they can administer an “oath” to make the complaint legally valid minutes after review.

Bringas said the mobile app is in accordance with the transitory provisions of the ARTA Revised New Rules of Procedure (ROP) as one of the means of promoting and achieving paperless filing of complaints.

The two newly launched platforms are linked. Through the ARTA Dashboard, the agency can evaluate, monitor, document, and execute proper action on the concerns and complaints being filed using the ARTA Citizen Services App.

The ARTA Dashboard and Citizen Services App are one of the Authority’s responses to the directive of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to “make all possible services available online.”

“We need to adjust to and adopt a paper-less type business and work performance. We need e-governance to provide our people with the services they need from the comfort of their homes or workplaces. It will enable our bureaucracy to better transition into the ‘new normal’ and cut or minimize red tape,” the President said in his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) in 2020.

The Ease of Doing Business and Anti-Red Tape (EODB-ART) Advisory Council endorsed the two platforms, along with the recently launched Anti-Red Tape Electronic Management Information System (ARTEMIS) and the Philippine Business Regulations Information System (PBRIS), in its 15th council meeting on 20 September 2021.

Belgica lauded the creation of the two platforms as “an innovative and trailblazing action” as it can ensure that Filipinos’ needs in relation to government services are better met amid the pandemic.

“In the recent months, we have seen the influx of complaints… Many concerns being lodged at ARTA are simply because of the difficulty of some adjusting from a pre-pandemic to a now pandemic situation—getting services, communicating with different government agencies,” he said.

“But truth be told, government services do not stop during a pandemic. In fact, it becomes even more imperative for government offices to hasten their  services because in a pandemic situation, the government’s goal to defend the people, and even deliver the most streamlined and fastest services, should try to outdo or be even faster than COVID-19. Samakatuwid, kinakailangan na ang kilos natin sa gobyerno ay hindi po bumabagal, kung hindi dapat mas mabilis at unahan pa po natin ang COVID,” he added.

“What is worse than being victimized by red tape is having to complain a red tape situation or experience and yet being again victimized the second time because the complaint has not reached the people or has not addressed the problem but has created another red tape problem,” Belgica said.

The ARTA chief also said that the ARTA Dashboard and Citizen Services App can lead government agencies into strengthening their complaints handling using social media.

“One of the things that we are attempting to do with this alpha launch is to really harmonize and legitimize the use of the social media to become an actual complaints avenue. We’ve been doing this in ARTA, we’re very active on social media but because social media emerged just a number of years ago, there are still shifting attitudes in how to deal with social media complaints. ‘Pag nagtrending sa social media ang isang problema, should we take it seriously or hindi? Well, for ARTA, we do,” he said.

“Maybe it’s high time for us in the government to up our game. Meaning, let’s take it a little more seriously. This is where public opinion is really born. This is where sentiments are poured out. You want to hear real talk? Then, it’s in digital media,” he added.

Lim echoed Belgica’s statement and said the two platforms will allow ARTA to quantify, digest, or categorize the concerns and complaints being broadcasted on social media.

“When you put it into an organized method of capturing all these data and then you generate dashboards and reports that are user-friendly, our ARTA folks can be able to qualify it, then it makes it easier for the citizens to then file quick updates,” he said.

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Project Management Specialist Jay De Quiros commended ARTA for initiating the development of the two platforms.

De Quiros said the ARTA Dashboard will provide the Authority with a visual and systematic way of seeing its processes that will help them identify gaps that they can address, while the ARTA Citizen Services App will be a “powerful tool” that can help the agency identify “regulatory red tape bottlenecks” and “craft appropriate interventions.”

“ARTA is always pushing the envelope in its twin mandates of empowerment and enforcement. Whereas sometimes, it has been controversial, my personal take, and not necessarily that of USAID, is that sometimes, cracking the whip is useful and necessary at certain points. And on the other hand, helping government agencies improve their services, not just for the benefit of the citizens, but even the government itself,” he said.

“Truly, with this app, ARTA has now become every Filipino’s big brother, or sa Tagalog, may ka-resbak na sila o kasangga,” he added.

Following the soft launch, ARTA staff will be trained on how to operate and maintain the two platforms. The ARTA Dashboard and Citizen Services App will also be pilot tested before being recalibrated and rolled out to the public.