ARTA To Sue Governor Over Anomalous Permit Transactions

The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) announced that it would file a case against a provincial governor before the Office of the Ombudsman due to supposed anomalies in the processing of permits.

In a weekly economic briefing, ARTA Director General Jeremiah Belgica said his office would lodge the complaint against the erring governor on Thursday, the same day his office enters its 100th day.

Belgica, however, declined to divulge more details, including the identity of the governor.

“For safety and security purposes, please I beg your indulgence by not disclosing the identity,” he told Palace reporters.

“But what I could tell you is kung ano pong nangyari. Medyo in a general sense po, mga permit po na inipit, na hilig na hilig po ng mga ibang govenrment agencies po na mayroon pong mga personal layunin na hindi ho natin alam. Bawal na bawal po ‘yan. Iipitin mo ang papel ng wala namang dahilan (But I could tell you what happened. In a general sense, some permits were put on hold, a practice being done by some government agencies whose personal objective is unknown to us. That is prohibited. You can’t put the permit on hold without any basis),” he said.

The ARTA, created through Republic Act 11032, is mandated to ensure the effective implementation of the law, which intends to cut red tape in government agencies that delay the delivery of efficient services.

Belgica said the ARTA has filed cases against seven individuals for allegedly violating the Anti-Red Tape Act since he assumed office on July 9 this year.

Those who face complaints include San Nicolas, Batangas Mayor Lester de Sagun; three officials of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board; and two personnel of the Registry of Deeds from different branches.

Weekly filing of cases

Belgica said ARTA also planned for the weekly filing of cases against public officials and employees who would defy President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to promote ease of doing business and efficient government service delivery.

He said his office was collating evidence against those who are not complying with the President’s directive, including “heads of agencies.”

“So kaya po ‘yung (So to the) offices and officials (who) are still contemplating whether totoo ba itong batas na ito (this law is true), we’re asking you now to please release the documents if they are already complete because it’s not going to be easy on you,” Belgica said.

RA 11032, which amends RA 9485 or the Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007, seeks the promotion of quality government service that would save Filipinos from undue regulatory burden and inefficiency.

Belgica warned that those who will fail to cut red tape in government may face severe punishment, as provided by the amended law.

“There’s a ‘two-strike’ rule, based on RA 11032. The ‘two-strike’ rule is for the first offense that they will be committing, it’s an administrative sanction, meaning six months suspension ang unang pagkakamali nila (for first offense),” he said.

He said the second offense would bear the penalty of dismissal from service, permanent disqualification from holding public office, one to 6 years imprisonment, and a fine of PHP500,000 to PHP1 million. (PNA)