IATF backs no-contact policy on issuance of permits

The government COVID-19 pandemic task force has endorsed a set of guidelines on the issuance of permits while the country continues to grapple with the global health crisis.

In a statement, the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) said that the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is set to direct all agencies to adopt the measures in keeping with President Duterte's directive on streamlining and digitalization of government processes.

ARTA Director General Jeremiah Belgica presented Memorandum Circular 2020-06 Thursday to the IATF following the launching of Stay Safe PH, an online contact-tracing initiative by the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19.

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 the Ease of Doing Business Act in delivering efficient and hazard-free services under the new normal.

The ARTA said it 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 during the pandemic.

According to ARTA, MC 2020-06 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," the ARTA said.

Concerned government agencies have been directed to avail themselves of and recognize the use of the Philippine National Public Key Infrastructure (PNPKI) of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), which utilizes digital signatures.

"This very feature was adopted by ARTA in the signing of the referred memorandum circular," it said.

The ARTA emphasized 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 circumstances, the government agency shall strictly observe contactless interactions through the use of technological platforms.

Agencies have been reminded that the prescribed processing time under the Ease of Doing Business Act remains in effect.

Republic Act (RA) 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business Act says government offices should process simple transactions for only three days; complex transactions, seven days; and highly technical transactions, 20 days.

"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," Belgica said.

"Any failure to deliver government service constitutes a violation of the law," he added.