26 April 2022 – The SM ARTA Action Center, another avenue where the public can file their red tape complaints and concerns, has been officially launched in SM Manila.

The Action Center, made through a partnership between the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) and SM Supermalls, was opened at the Government Service Express at the fifth floor of SM Manila on Monday.

The said project will serve as another one of ARTA’s various platforms where the public can lodge their red tape concerns. It will be manned by both ARTA employees and volunteers.

Secretary Jeremiah B. Belgica, ARTA Director General, led the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the establishment of the SM ARTA Action Center.

He was joined by Undersecretary Carlos F. Quita, Deputy Director General for Administration, Finance, and Special Programs; Undersecretary Eduardo V. Bringas, Deputy Director General for Legal; Undersecretary Ernesto V. Perez, Deputy Director General for Operations; Engr. Bien Mateo, SM Supermalls Sr. Vice President for Operations and SM Cares Program Director for Program on PWDs; and Bishop Grepor Butch Belgica, Presidential Adviser for Moral Transformation and Religious Affairs.

Usec. Quita said the SM ARTA Action Center is similar to the ARTAmbayan Outposts that the Authority has set up at Barangay Pinyahan along Magalang Street in Quezon City and at Matnog Port in Sorsogon City.

“Iisa ang purpose niyan. As always, we make it a point that whatever method or medium we use, always this should be for a common purpose. The very purpose is to serve the general public and other clients in the most efficient way,” he said.

ARTA Sec. Belgica also said that while the ARTAmbayan Outpost was established to serve as a deterrent against fixers, the SM ARTA Action Center can cater to all other red tape concerns.

“The ARTAmbayan is actually a response to fixer-prone areas. Kaya po makikita niyo ang mga location ng mga ARTAmbayan, doon ‘yung mga tambayan ng mga fixer talaga,” he said.

“In the Action Center, this is a place kung saan ho maraming government offices and services that are here, and ARTA is actually already here for any ARTA concerns from the tenants, from the walk-in clients, and also from people within the government offices. Kasi tandaan po natin, ‘yung mga government po, mayroon din ‘yang mga hinaing po na gusto nilang idulog ng tulong para matulungan din po natin sila,” the ARTA chief said.

“So, not necessarily that this is an outpost for fixer-prone areas, kasi I don’t think na mayroon dito masyadong aali-aligid, but definitely, mayroon pong mga tumatagal na transaksyon at naiipit, kung hindi man dito sa mga offices na present already, sa iba pong mga opisina ng gobyerno,” he added.

The SM ARTA Action Center will also feature a QR Code leading to the Authority’s official website where the public can choose whether they wish to file their complaints using the website or the recently launched e-ARTA Complaints Management System.

As of writing, at least 24 cases have already been lodged using the e-ARTA CMS, according to Usec. Bringas. The e-ARTA CMS is only in its pilot run.

“Hopefully, we can launch this on full implementation by May 19, by God’s grace,” Usec. Bringas said.

Usec. Perez called on the public to let ARTA help them when it comes to their red tape problems by properly filing their complaints and concerns.

“We are really encouraging people to go to us kasi wala nang dahilan, the law became effective three years ago. Three years na mula noong na-implement natin ito. Hindi na puwede na hindi nila (government agencies) alam ang batas because ignorance of the law does not excuse anyone,” he said.

“So, ‘pag kayo ay may reklamo, ilapit niyo agad sa ARTA at aaksyunan ito,” he added.

ARTA Sec. Belgica expressed hope that the SM ARTA Action Center will be expanded to other SM branches and that its operations will be sustained even in the next administrations.

“I am confident that even the next administration would agree that this is actually a good project between SM and the government,” he said. “And I do hope talaga na ito po ay mapapalawak pa natin.”

“And I do believe that it’s a great project, it’s a wonderful project, and the people would really benefit from this project,” he added.