Belgica reminds gov't agencies not to neglect public assistance desks

Published June 23, 2021, 11:39 AM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) Director-General Jeremiah Belgica said having public assistance desks in government offices was important because complaints of the transacting public can easily be resolved with them.

Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) Director-General Jeremiah Belgica (Photo from ARTA)

Belgica made the statement as the agency resumed its inspections on government agencies Tuesday, June 22, and found no one manning the public assistance desks of some offices.

In a statement, Belgica said a number of the complaints the ARTA received would be resolved if adequately-staffed public assistance desks were established in the concerned government agencies.

“Huwag po natin pabayaan ‘yung public assistance desk (Let us not leave the public assistance desk empty),” he said.

“Normally, marami sa complaints na dumarating sa desk, masosolusyonan kung may public assistance desk (many complaints lodged would be resolved much faster if there are public assistance desks),” he added.

During their inspection, ARTA saw that there was no one manning the public assistance desk at the National Meat Inspection Services (NMIS). The same issue was observed at the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA).

The Ease of Doing Business Act mandates government offices to establish Public Assistance/Complaints Desks.

For their part, NMIS Executive Director Jocelyn Salvador said they had to move their public assistance desk outside of the building as part of their health and safety protocols amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

She also admitted to struggling with their lack of manpower. Based on the guidelines of the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, only 30 to 50 percent of the capacity of workforces should physically report to work.

“We welcome all these findings, we continuously try to improve our systems,” she said.

“We don’t want to compromise health but we also want to address the facilitation of business,” she added.

Aside from NMIS and SRA, ARTA visited the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) while advance inspection teams were deployed to other offices of the Department of Agriculture (DA) including the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA), and the Aquatic Resources-Fisheries Inspection and Quarantine Division (BFAR-FIQD).

ARTA is set to conduct more inspections in the following days.

During their visits, Belgica reminded government agencies to continue collaborating with one another for a more unified effort against red tape.

They also encouraged government agencies to report to ARTA if ever they experience any problems in streamlining their systems for the speedy processing of applications and requests.