4 September 2020 – Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) Director General Jeremiah Belgica presented Memorandum Circular 2020-06 yesterday to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) following their visit to Manila City where he took part in launching Stay Safe PH, an online contact-tracing initiative by the National Task Force Against COVID – 19. The IATF-EID endorsed the guidelines and is set to direct all agencies to adopt the measures in keeping with the President’s SONA directive on streamlining and digitalization of government processes.

MC 2020-06 or the Guidelines on the Issuance and/or Reinstitution of Permits and Licenses Under the “New Normal” provides simplified, streamlined, and automated standards, measures, and procedures which shall be adopted by all government agencies and offices covered by R.A. 11032 in delivering efficient and hazard-free services under the “new normal”. ARTA formulated the guidelines to ensure that regulatory requirements do not unnecessarily constrain businesses in continuing to engage in productive economic activities and to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of government agencies to support these activities in this time of pandemic.

The circular prescribes government agencies to reduce the number of documentary requirements and to accept electronic submission of applications. The covered agencies are now required to set up a payment gateway for digital payments. They are also directed to avail of and recognize the use of the Philippine National Public Key Infrastructure (PNPKI) of the Department of Information and Communications Technology, which utilizes digital signatures. This very feature was adopted by ARTA in the signing of the referred memorandum circular.

ARTA emphasizes in the circular that the zero-contact policy provision of the law should not be used as a tool in denying government service to the transacting public who are requesting for an update on the status of their applications. In line with the zero-contact policy, requirements for meeting with the applicant shall be removed, unless the procedure is considered strictly necessary for a complex or a highly-technical transaction. In such circumstance, the government agency shall strictly observe contactless interactions through the use of technological platforms.

Further, the circular reminds the agencies that the prescribed processing time under R.A. 11032 remains in effect.

“ARTA is mindful of the challenges that many government agencies are facing since the adoption of alternative work arrangements. However, this shall not be an excuse for us in the government to forego of the prescribed processing time. Any failure to deliver government service constitutes a violation of the law”, said ARTA Director General Jeremiah Belgica.

All government agencies are also directed to consider the extension of the validity of their permits to at least five years, “unless otherwise specified by law or by particular time-bound reportorial requirements necessary for the implementation of such license, permit or authorization”.

Lastly, the circular enjoins government agencies at all levels to adopt a whole of nation approach which is national government-enabled, local government-led, and is people-centric. MC 2020-06 can be accessed at the official website of ARTA via MEMORANDUM CIRCULAR No. 2020 – 06.