29 September 2021 – Secretary Jeremiah Belgica, Director General of the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), said that the agency will be working with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to cut red tape in its voter registration sites.
Belgica, with his staff, inspected several voter registration sites inside malls in Metro Manila on Wednesday amid reports of long queues and cut-off schemes being implemented.
On the same day, the ARTA chief also talked with Atty. Bartolome J. Sinocruz, Jr., Comelec Executive Director, over the phone to discuss ARTA’s initial observations and recommendations.
The Authority is exercising its empowerment function to push for the streamlining of Comelec’s services especially while the threat of COVID-19 is still present.
“ARTA is here to give recommendations and suggestions na maaaring makatulong sa Comelec. We have dealt with long lines and delays in processing in other government agencies amid the pandemic numerous times,” Belgica said.
“We are supportive of Comelec’s efforts with regard to voter registration. We are here to help because we believe this is an issue that requires a whole-of-government approach,” he added.
Although Comelec is a Constitutional body, its frontline services such as the processing of voter registrations is within ARTA’s jurisdiction as stated by Republic Act No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018.
While Belgica thanked the Comelec for extending the period for voter registration from 9 to 31 October, he also stressed that more work needs to be done to streamline their services and make it more convenient for the public.
He also reminded the public to not wait until the last minute to register as voters.
“Masaya po ako na ang daming nagpaparehistro para maging botante. Pero sana huwag na nating hintayin ang last minute bago magparehistro, gawin na po natin agad,” he said.
“This only adds to the problem, eh. Makipagtulungan po tayo sa gobyerno para masiguradong hindi na mauulit ‘tong nangyayari ngayon,” he added.
The Authority is set to submit its recommendations to Comelec early next week.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte himself repeatedly called on national government agencies, local government units, and other instrumentalities to streamline and automate their services.
“I reiterate my directive to the government and instrumentalities, including the LGUs and the government corporations: simplify. Nandito ba kayo? Simplify. Just like the others. You can do it electronically,” he said in his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) in 2019.
In his sixth and final SONA in July 2021, President Duterte also issued a warning against government agencies where people have to line up for hours or visit the office several times just to finish their transaction.
“I do not want people queueing under the heat of the sun. No more queueing, especially in the national offices,” he said.
“Pag ang tao bumabalik (sa mga ahensya ng gobyerno), dalawa, isa, tatlo, then there is corruption there… I’m just warning everybody, there’s still one year to go,” he added.