4 March 2022 – Secretary Jeremiah B. Belgica, Director General of the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), met with top-level officials of the Social Security System for the presentation of their zero backlog program.

This is in line with the Authority’s weeklong event carrying the theme “Zero Backlog Policy, Paigtingin! 3-7-20, Laging Sundin!”

The event aims to promote the prescribed processing time in transacting with the government as stated in R.A. 11032: three days for simple transactions, seven days for complex transactions, and 20 days for highly technical transactions.

The meeting coincided with an on-the-ground inspection that ARTA Sec. Belgica, along with his staff, conducted at the SSS Diliman, Quezon City branch on Friday morning.

Here, the ARTA chief observed multiple violations of Republic Act No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018 corroborating reports of long queues forming outside the office, hours before it even opened.

Upon arrival, ARTA Sec. Belgica found that there was only an express lane for senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and pregnant women outside the office but none inside.

Some have been in line since the previous night, including an 83-year-old woman who had been at the government office since 9 p.m.

Many of those queueing at SSS Diliman said they were redirected from the SSS branches where they lived nearby, but when they arrived at the said office, they were also redirected to other branches.

The office was also found to be implementing a quota system. It also did not have its Citizen’s Charter displayed, which could have served as the public’s reference in the services being offered in the office and their corresponding requirements, processes, and fees.

Although there were kiosks that had facilities for online transactions, these were not functioning when ARTA conducted its inspection. Some of the people in line at the office also approached ARTA Sec. Belgica and complained of the nonfunctional or slow online facilities.

Some, particularly senior citizens, opted to go home instead because there are no available staff to assist them in their transactions.

SSS Diliman Branch Head Leo Danao and Vice President and Concurring Acting Head Johnsy Magundayao reasoned that they have yet to adjust to the influx of clients in their offices after Metro Manila was placed under Alert Level 1. They also explained that they have a shortage of available personnel.

But ARTA Sec. Belgica said government agencies must adjust to provide the services that the Filipino people need and deserve.

“I think may kailangan tayong gawin doon sa fact na ang tao, kailangan pumila magdamag for a number. Ang tao, nafo-force to do that. Ibig sabihin, may kailangan tayong i-adjust doon sa system. Huwag natin sila (taumbayan) sisihin,” he said.

“We really have to do something about it. Kung kailangan natin ng additional na tao, additional na support, sabihin po natin sa main office,” he added.

During the one-on-one meeting, SSS Benefits Administration Division Vice President Normita Doctor said they will extend office hours until 7 p.m. and remain open on Saturdays for branches in Metro Manila to keep up with the demand for their services.

The ARTA chief said he will conduct another inspection at the said office in the following days to ensure that the red tape concerns of the public had been addressed.