ARTA to endorse gov’t employees under probe for lifestyle checks

Published May 13, 2021, 12:31 PM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) said it is now preparing to endorse government employees and officials under its investigation to the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) for lifestyle checks.

In a radio interview, ARTA Director General Jeremiah Belgica revealed the agency’s move following the continuing delays in the processing of permit applications for various products at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Executive Order (EO) No. 43 s.2017, as amended by EO No. 73 s.2017, states that the PACC “may, upon instructions of the President, or motu propio, conduct lifestyle checks and fact-finding inquiries on acts or omissions of all presidential appointees, including those outside the Executive Branch of government.”

This is the case “may be violative of the Constitution, or contrary to law, rules and regulations, and/or constitute serious misconduct tantamount to betrayal of public trust.”

Belgica said they have already gathered some leads about the background of the individuals up for PACC’s lifestyle checks. He, however, said cannot give more information about it as of the moment.

“We are discussing already with our investigation team and I cannot really discuss details,” Belgica said.

On Tuesday, May 11, ARTA issued a Show Cause Order to FDA Center for Drug Regulation and Research (CDRR) Director IV Jesusa Cirunay last Tuesday to explain why over 600 applications remain unacted despite completeness of submission of various pharmaceutical companies.

In pushing for this move, Belgica stressed that corruption and red tape are closely intertwined. He explained that long processes in government transactions only force individuals to look for other ways to speed up processing, one of which is by greasing it.

In the meantime, he made this appeal once again to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and FDA Director General Eric Domingo to clean up the ranks and to speed up processing of applications to help Filipinos.

Meanwhile, Belgica turned emotional when asked to estimate how much loss had been incurred just because of red tape in drug application processing.

“We have a terminology in law ‘beyond pecuniary estimation’. It’s really hard to assign monetary equivalent when we’re talking about the lives that probably would have been saved and, you know, sickness would have been addressed sooner _kung naaksyunan po ang mga ito_,” he said.

“In the time of pandemic you know we have this kinds of problem with our regulatory agency of drugs that they should be more compassionate. I’m really heartbroken. I’m sorry,” the ARTA czar further lamented.

Belgica stressed anew that ARTA is all after ensuring governmental processes are moving for efficient and timely delivery of public services.