4 November 2021 – Officials of the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) took their oath as members of the agency’s new Anti-Corruption Committee (ARTA-ACC) in a virtual ceremony on 25 October 2021.

The newly formed committee is tasked to remove any form of corruption in the agency through the formation of anti-graft measures, policies, and programs.

The ARTA-ACC was done in support of Project KASANGGA-Aksyon laban sa Korapsyon under the partnership of the Authority and the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC).

Undersecretary BGen. Carlos F. Quita, Ret., Deputy Director General for Finance and Administration, will serve at the helm of the ARTA-ACC as chairperson. Usec. Eduardo V. Bringas, Deputy Director General for Legal, will be the committee’s co-chairperson.

Finance and Administration Office Director Rabindranath P. Quilala will serve as ARTA-ACC’s vice chairperson while Investigation, Enforcement, and Litigation Office Director Jedrek C. Ng will be the co-vice chairperson.

Department Order No. 2021-60, Series of 2021 states that ARTA-ACC members must create a streamlined Complaint Action Center that is accessible to the public through a hotline, help desk, and email, among others.

They must also create, implement, and monitor ARTA’s anti-corruption policies and programs and coordinate with its attached agencies, bureaus, and other instrumentalities to ensure that they are properly carried out.

The ARTA-ACC is also empowered to refer information and incident reports of corruption and actions undertaken to the PACC.

The committee is mandated to maintain contact with PACC and the other members of the Anti-Corruption Coordinating Council (ACCC), the department order, issued on 9 August 2021, stated.

Usec. Quita assured that there will be no letup in ARTA’s ongoing initiatives against corruption.

“In reality, we have been doing this already, even in the absence of our Memorandum of Agreement, even in the absence of an oathtaking. But nevertheless, this completely seals our unwavering commitment toward that end. And I, together with my co-chair and the members of the ACC of ARTA will be fully committed to really work with the PACC, especially on its Project KASANGGA: Aksyon laban sa Korapsyon,” he said.

“Rest assured, we have our Secretary, that ARTA will be in full support in the fight against corruption,” he added.

In his speech, Secretary Jeremiah B. Belgica, ARTA Director General, lamented how corruption eroded the country’s progress and demoralized the Filipino people.

“Our nation’s economic growth has long been plagued by corruption, like a termite eating the wooden columns of our home. It has a domino effect on all facets of our society. Corruption deprives society of resources. This deprivation eventually results in poverty. Poverty inevitably results in further deprivation. Deprivation of a high-quality education, on the other hand, results in another diminution of employment opportunities. These deprivations contribute to marginalized people committing crimes, and so on. Corruption does not only result in deprivation. However, it erodes people’s ethics and morals. Apart from the greed and selfishness of corrupt officials, it breeds hatred, resentment, and distrust in society. That is why corruption really has to end,” he said.

The ARTA chief said the agency can help lessen the opportunity for corruption through streamlining and automation.

He then likened the committee’s role as “strings of hope that Filipinos can hold onto.”

“ARTA has consistently backed the President’s efforts to root out corruption in government. Likewise, we have been collaborating with PACC to combat corruption and reduce red tape in the country. Only then will we be able to provide a comfortable life for Filipinos and transform the Philippines into a better country. This has always been the President’s hope for the country, and we share that desire wholeheartedly,” he added.

Senatorial aspirant and former PACC Chairman Greco Belgica echoed the ARTA czar’s statements and called on other government agencies to step up in the fight against corruption.

“I think this is one of the most important na gagawin ng gobyerno, labanan ang kasamaan at korapsyon sa bansa… Kailangan talaga po ng bansa ito. It’s a work in progress, I think, siguro, hopefully the next administration can build up on what we have started,” he said.

“We have not finished or gotten there. Marami pang korap, marami pang red tape sa Pilipinas, but from where we have started as a country, malayo na ang narating natin. Mayroon na tayong nailatag,” he added.

PACC Commissioner Yvette C. Contacto congratulated the Authority for forming the ARTA-ACC.

“Today’s activity is a manifestation of your agency’s determination, not only to cooperate in the PACC’s efforts against corruption, but more importantly, in activating President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s directive to continue the fight against those who taint public service through abuses committed while they weild power and authority,” she said.

“As we finally set Project KASANGGA in motion, the PACC is optimistic that ARTA will showcase an active commitment to instill disciplinary decorum, not only amongst its ranks, but also in those belonging to other agencies,” she added.