20 January 2022 – The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), along with other key agencies, signed a Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) that aims to streamline the processes and requirements in relation to local travel on Wednesday.
JMC No. 1, Series of 2022 or the Streamlining of Requirements and Process for Local Travel also aims to make contact tracing more efficient amid the pandemic.
Secretary Jeremiah B. Belgica, ARTA Director General, led other government agencies in the signing of the JMC in a virtual ceremonial launch.
Through the new issuance, the use of S-PaSS will be institutionalized as the one-stop shop application and communication for travelers. The S-PaSS is a travel management system developed by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) primarily to make traveling Safe, Swift, and Smart for Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs), Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) Emergency Travelers (ETs), and other travelers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
All local government units will be required to onboard in the S-PaSS or integrate their existing travel management applications to the system where they will facilitate travel permits.
All implemented information systems in the COVID-19 response network for contact tracing and issuance of necessary permits or certifications required for travel shall also be made interconnected and/or interoperable.
This includes the S-PaSS, StaySafe PH, VaxCertPH, COVID Document Repository System (CDRS), Traze App, and One Health Pass, among others.
With this, the requirements and processes for travel permits will be streamlined. Travelers will also no longer need to download multiple contact tracing applications and register multiple times because a single account will work across the country, regardless of the application used.
The JMC also states that travelers should only comply with the requirements of their point of destination. All LGUs that will be passed through shall honor the travel permit given by the point of destination LGUs provided that they will only pass through the said localities and will not stay for longer than eight hours.
The processing time to approve or disapprove an application shall not exceed 24 hours. LGUs are mandated to act on the applications submitted through the S-PaSS every day of the week, including weekends.
Should the LGUs fail to approve or disapprove an application for travel pass or permit within 24 hours, the application will be deemed automatically approved, provided that the applicant submitted complete requirements in the S-PaSS.
All LGUs are mandated to set up a Traveler Help Desk with a working local hotline, preferably a mobile number, to further assist the public.
An Oversight Committee on Local Travel will also be formed.
Other signatory agencies of the JMC include the DOST, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Department of Tourism (DOT), Department of Transportation (DOTr), and Department of Health (DOH).
ARTA Sec. Belgica said the newly signed issuance would pave the way in rebooting tourism in the Philippines, provide employment, and encourage a safe, swift, and smart travel experience for Filipinos after the pandemic.
Tourism was one of the hardest-hit sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Ang lahat po ng aming ginagawa ay para po sa atin mga Pilipino na patuloy na lumalaban sa kabila ng dagok ng pandemya. ARTA works to improve the efficiency of government services while also making it easier for people to go about their daily lives during a pandemic,” he said.”
“We are continuing to fulfill our mandate of streamlining and reengineering government processes by empowering agencies, local government units, private stakeholders, and the general public through our various programs and services. We also perform our enforcement function by filing cases, conducting investigations, and even entrapping those who insist on continuing with the previous method, which is excessive bureaucratic red tape,” he added.
The JMC stemmed from complaints that ARTA received from different stakeholders on the different and repetitive requirements that travelers have to submit when traveling from one place to another in the country, said Undersecretary Ernesto V. Perez, Deputy Director General for Operations.
ARTA Usec. Perez also shared how he personally experienced this kind of red tape during a family trip in 2021.
Undersecretary Eduardo V. Bringas, Deputy Director General for Legal, thanked the government agencies and members of the private sector that worked with ARTA to institutionalize reforms.
“As we welcome the year 2022, the Anti-Red Tape Authority is filled with eagerness and excitement as we look forward to continue working with you, with renewed vigor and inspiration, as we achieve milestones by surpassing hardships and challenges together,” he said.
“Indeed, inspired by the Latin phrase: ‘ad astra per aspera,’ we can reach the stars through hard work, breakthroughs from difficulties, and leave our legacy with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s campaign against red tape and corruption of any form,” he added.
Undersecretary Carlos F. Quita, Deputy Director General for Administration, Finance, and Special Programs expressed hope that the new issuance will be beneficial to the Filipino public.
“The gracing of this important event by the top management of our partner agencies and groups coupled with our common intent to realize the objectives of the JMC, more particularly in serving the general public, underscore the compelling need to seriously implement this JMC,” he said.
“We therefore hope that with the full implementation and the institutionalization of the S-PaSS and an interoperable contact tracing application in all local government units and ports, and through the integration of relevant systems in the COVID-19 response network, the various stakeholders and the general public will truly benefit from this initiative,” he added.