17 August 2020 – Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) Director General Jeremiah Belgica was assigned by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases last week to act as “big brother” to Manila City. Together with Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Secretary Gringo Honasan who has also been assigned to same LGU, the ARTA czar is to “provide stronger support” to the nation’s capital and will aim to harmonize the COVID-19 response efforts of the City with that of the national government.

The arrangement is pursuant to IATF Resolution No. 62 issued last August 12, deputizing IATF members to high-risk areas in Metro Manila and nearby provinces that are under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ). The Cabinet secretaries are to assist corresponding LGUs in communicating policies and in ensuring the proper implementation of their efforts against COVID-19.

“National government-enabled, local government-led and people-centered response, that has always been the framework of action that the entire government has followed in our fight against COVID-19. Our designation with former Senator and now DICT Secretary Greg Honasan to Manila City confirms the strong support by the national government and IATF-EID to the superb efforts already being done under the leadership of Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso.” the ARTA czar said.

In line with the mandate of ARTA, he seeks to further incorporate ease in doing business and efficiency in government service delivery in the LGU’s system through streamlining and digitization efforts in the hopes to expedite processes and minimize physical contact for the transacting public.

ARTA and DICT will be collaborating with the Manila City LGU and will be coordinating the efforts with IATF and the National Task Force against COVID-19. Among others, they are to provide support in strictly monitoring the LGU’s health system performance, critical care capacity, and stringent compliance to surveillance, isolation, and treatment protocols.

“Sa aking paniniwala, ang local officials po ang mas nakaka alam nang mga nangyayari sa kani-kanilang lugar kung kaya kailangang patuloy na palakasin at suportahan sila ng national government. Of course, bringing in ARTA’s mandate for systems streamlining and the cutting of red-tape, we can also support Mayor Isko and his entire team as they continue to come up with measures and strategies in battling this monster of a problem of Covid-19. Having been born and raised in Manila, I am honored to have been given the chance to serve the City as well with our exceptional Mayor Isko of Manila and with another icon in public service, Sec. Greg Honasan,” DG Belgica ended.

Other members of the Cabinet were assigned to other Metro Manila LGUs, and to the provinces of Laguna, Bulacan, Cavite, and Rizal who each have high COVID-19 transmission as per the Department of Health’s records.