The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), along with other key government agencies, issued a Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) containing guidelines on the processing of the benefits of uniformed personnel and their legal beneficiaries.
This came months after President Duterte ordered in March 2021 to automate and speed up the processing of death benefit claims of uniformed personnel, citing the hardship beneficiaries must undergo just to process their claims, including having to travel to Metro Manila.
In a statement, ARTA said JMC No. 2, Series of 2021 or the Guidelines on the Processing of Retirement Benefits, Gratuities Claims, and Other Entitlements of Uniformed Personnel and their Beneficiaries aims to provide a comprehensive, simplified, and unified or integrated set of guidelines and streamlined procedures for uniformed personnel and their beneficiaries.
It also aims to fast-track the submission of necessary requirements by the claimants and the processing of claims by reducing the documentary requirements, simplifying the process, and regionalizing and automating the entire process.
According to ARTA, claimants will now only be required to submit the relevant application form, letter of intent, or other relevant documents and requirements as stated in the agency’s Citizen Charter to begin the processing of claims.
Claimants will also be allowed to submit certified true copies of documentary requirements to initiate the processing of their claims, but their benefits will only be released after the submission of the original copies.
Government agencies are required to process and consolidate the requirements internally to prevent claimants from going around various offices within agencies and to adhere to the processing time provided in their Citizen’s Charter.
Within three months from the signing of this JMC, uniformed services will sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and enter into a Data-Sharing Agreement with the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) which is seen to further streamline the processing of benefit claims for uniformed personnel.
This new agreement will allow agencies to utilize the Records Data Matching Service for ease of verification of births, deaths, and marriages; and the Batch Request Entry System (BREQS) for the facilitated copy issuance of civil registry documents (CRD).
Claimants will then no longer be required to personally appear before the relevant government agencies to process their claims as agencies will be required to implement appropriate mechanisms to localize their processes.
Government agencies will be ordered to implement measures on the use of digital signatures to sign and verify documents and digital certificates for authenticity and validity purposes.
In his message, ARTA Director-General Jeremiah Belgica underscored how streamlining services can provide retired uniformed personnel time to spend with their loved ones, something that they were not able to get while dedicating their lives in service to the country.
“Having a lengthy process is but an affront to our uniformed personnel who have already dedicated much of their lives in serving our Country,” he said.
“Depriving them of this time with their families is something that we cannot countenance,” he added.
According to Belgica, the country’s uniformed personnel have already dedicated and sacrificed a good deal of time serving the country and its people. Their loved ones have also endured the time spent apart from them.
“Truly, we can never turn back time or make up for the lost chances. We can, however, show our appreciation for their hard work and dedication to protecting our country by giving them time,” he said.
“This is probably the most valuable reward they will receive,” he added.
This issuance was crafted by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Streamlining the Processing of Uniformed Services Benefit Claims.
The group is composed of officials from the Authority, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM), Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).