Tuesday, June 19, 2007

PGMA signs Anti-Red Tape Act

Cebu, Philippines (18 June)—President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed the Anti-Red Tape Act 2007 or RA 9465 as anti-graft experts offered their services to help monitor graft and corruption in government.

Former Tanodbayan Simeon Marcelo and former COA auditor Heidi Mendoza said that there is a need for citizen volunteers to monitor government projects to ensure above board procurement and biddings. Marcelo and Mendoza were guests in a forum here in Cebu that was conducted recently by the Dilaab Foundation, Inc., whose advocacy is good government and the fight against corruption.

Marcelo said “active citizen’s monitoring was very effective in Abra province and in Ateneo de Manila and if they were able to do it there, we can also do it here in Cebu.”

The signing into law of the Anti-Red Tape Act confirms the government’s resolve to stump graft and corruption in the bureaucracy; hasten government transactions and provide stiffer penalties for those engaging in graft and corruption.

RA-9465 states that government transactions such as applications or renewal of permits, licenses and other documentation should be completed in 5 working days especially for simple cases and 10 working days for more complex transactions or requests.

It said that each agency is also required to reply to the client, whether requests are rejected or couldn’t be processed with the explanations why it was rejected and what could be done to refile their requests. Signatories in each document the law states, must be limited to a maximum of 5 persons to reduce time and simplify procedures.

The law also directs agencies, GOCCs and GFIs to come up with a citizen’s charter that would serve as the guideline in the conduct of employees’ duty. This charter will detail the procedures involving public transactions that include types of services; requirements needed to avail of such services; length of time to deliver such service; fees needed and procedures in cases of complaints. Each agency is also required to put up a public assistance complaints’ desk.

Those who (a) refuse to accept applications or requests; (b) attend to the clients’ needs; (c) fail to give written notice of disapproval of application or requests or impose additional, irrelevant requirements may be penalized for a lighter offense that includes a 30-day suspension without pay and a mandatory attendance to a value orientation programs for the 1st offense.

For the 2nd offense however, a 3-month suspension without pay while dismissal is meted out for the 3rd offense and perpetual disqualification from public office. Perpetual disqualification from public office is also given to those who have been proven to commit grave offense such as fixing or working with fixers.

Other penalties included in the law are: for grave offense, they may also be charged criminally with imprisonment of up to 6 years, a fine from P20,000 to 200,000 or both fine and imprisonment depending on the decision of the court. (PIA-Cebu/MBCN)

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