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Ten Years of War against Red Tape:

Breakthroughs,
Challenges
&
Recommendations

Submitted by:

Ma. Joahnna C. Rendon

Submitted to:

Dr. Lizan Perante-Calina


PA 209- Ethics and Accountability

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I. INTRODUCTION

A. Background

“I direct all department secretaries and heads of agencies to remove


redundant requirements and compliance with one department or agency,
shall be accepted as sufficient for all,”

– President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Inaugural Adress, 2016

The above statements of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during his inaugural address expressed a
strong sense of urgency and served as a stale warning/challenge to agencies to ease the predicament of the
public, a predicament which have long been crippling the Philippine bureaucracy - RED TAPE.

On top of corruption and inefficiency, the Philippine bureaucracy is proliferated with rampant red
tape. The tedious processes and procedures, the penitence brought by long queues in frontline services, the
clearances required and the fees collected have been viewed by many as deliberate practices in order to
provoke corrupt activities such as fixing.

On one note, other people believed that these procedures, fees and clearances were simply required
by service offices (SOs) in conformity to formalism. Whichever it is, whether or not red tape and corruption are
mutually exclusive, the tedious processes and procedures in frontline service delivery have caused distrust
on the capacity of our government to serve the people efficiently. Worst, the red tape situation in the country
has placed the Philippines in the list of nations with the least business-friendly and least trusted bureaucracies
worldwide.

This has been the challenge faced by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) as the central human
resource agency of the government. As the central HR, the CSC is responsible for imbibing discipline and
values in public service. Hence, in an effort to address red tape and improve frontline service delivery, it has
launched programs such as the Mamamayan Muna, Hindi Mamaya Na (1994) and the Public Service Delivery
Audit (PASADA) in 2003, among other strategic initiatives (Breakthrough: Game Changers in Public Frontline
Service Delivery, 2015).

The culmination of its fight against red tape came with the passage of Republic Act No. 9485 or the
Anti –Red Tape Act of 2007 (ARTA) on June 2, 2007 with the title “An Act to Improve Efficiency in the Delivery

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of Government Service to the Public by Reducing Bureaucratic Red Tape and Preventing Graft and
Corruption, and Providing Penalties Therefor.”

With the passage of ARTA, support mechanisms were established, such as: (1) the Posting of the
Citizen’s Charter (2) the Report Card Survey (RCS), (3) Reengineering Systems and Procedures (4) Public
Assistance and Complaints Desk (5) the “No Noon Break Policy” (6) the Contact Center ng Bayan (CCB)
which now services the Citizens’ Complaints Hotline 8888 (7) the Service Delivery Excellence Program
(SDEP) and the (8) Seal of Excellence Award for agencies who have complied/passed specific ARTA
measures (ARTA Project Status Report, 2015).

The control mechanisms abovementioned should have improved frontline service delivery. The
question is, to what extent?

The pronouncements of the incumbent President when he took his Oath of Office (as the 16th
President of the Philippines) to fight red tape makes us reflect on this negative bureaucratic behavior. Ten
years from enactment of the ARTA, where are we now on the fight against red tape? Were there improvements
in frontline service delivery?

This paper was developed to assess if ARTA has helped eradicate red tape. It shall also reexamine
existing gaps and challenges in implementation of the law; and provide strategic solutions to improve its
existing support mechanisms.

A. Purpose of the Paper

This paper aims to answer the following questions:


a. Did ARTA improved frontline service delivery?
b. What are the existing issues and challenges in ARTA implementation?
c. What other solutions will improve its enforcement?

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II. METHODOLOGY

The development of this paper entailed the review of relevant data/studies online. Success stories of service
offices were sourced from the 2015 ARTA Coffee Table Book released by the Civil Service Commission (CSC)
in 2015.

III. REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE

According to Osborne and Gaebler (1992) the kind of bureaucracies during the industrial era, which
are sluggish, centralized, preoccupied with rules, and with hierarchical chains of command, may no longer
work or serve well today (Denhardt and Denhardt, 2011,). Thus, it is important that approaches to governance
are revisited constantly, renewed and improved on to be at par with the growing demands of the people and
the changing times.

Osborne and Gaebler (1992) believed that the government should be driven by missions, rather
than rules, be results-oriented by funding outcomes rather than inputs and should meet the needs of the
customer- its people (London, 1994).

Red Tape in the Philippines: A Matter of National Concern

Red Tape is defined as official rules and processes that seemed unnecessary and delay results
(http://dictionary.cambridge.org), an official routine or procedure marked by excessive complexity which
results in delay or inaction (https://www.merriam-webster.com).

In the Philippines, red tape is a growing concern. The quality of bureaucracy that we have is still
synonymous to those in the industrial era- VERY PROCEDURAL. The complexities of administrative rules in
the Philippines have created dysfunctions, at the expense of results (Reyes, 1994). In attempting to control
virtually everything, the government has become so obsessed with dictating everything, regulating the
process, controlling the inputs while ignoring the outcome and results. The product is thus, a government
with distinct ethos: slow, inefficient and personal (Reyes, 1994).

In the World Economic Forum 2016 Global Competitiveness Report (See Table 1), the rank of the

Philippines has dropped from 2015 to 2016 on indices related to administrative burdens (Indices 1.09, 1.11,).

Table 1. Ranking of the Philippines on Global Competitiveness Indicators

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5 -YR 1-YR
Indicators 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
change change

1.01 Property rights 81 78 61 61 74 105 99 -3 18

1.02 Intellectual property protection 74 71 66 78 87 102 103 -3 29

1.03 Diversion of public funds 102 100 78 79 100 127 135 -2 33

1.04 Public trust of/in politicians 99 89 89 90 95 128 134 -10 35

1.05 Irregular payments and bribes 105 95 86 105 108 119 128 -10 23

1.06 Judicial independence 80 76 77 99 99 102 111 -4 31

1.07 Favoritism in decisions of government officials 94 74 66 75 87 118 131 -20 37

1.08 Wastefulness of government spending 61 61 60 63 86 109 118 0 57

1.09 Burden of government regulation 117 101 73 98 108 126 126 -16 9

1.10 Efficiency of legal framework in settling disputes 110 87 68 76 107 115 122 -23 12

1.11 Efficiency of legal framework in


83 80 56 71 102 118 116 -3 33
challenging regulations
1.12 Transparency of government policymaking 86 85 85 92 97 120 123 -1 37

1.13 Government services for Improved


- - - - 51 - - - -
business performance
1.14 Business costs of terrorism 120 113 110 124 126 130 126 -7 6

1.15 Business costs of crime and violence 110 92 77 101 107 112 104 -18 -6

1.16 Organized crime 89 87 69 86 97 102 106 -2 17

1.17 Reliability of police services 110 101 101 94 100 112 105 -9 -5

1.18 Ethical behavior of firms 71 52 49 69 87 118 129 -19 58

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1.19 Strength of auditing and reporting standards 44 46 48 38 41 62 75 2 31

1.20 Efficacy of corporate boards 44 31 29 48 51 52 56 -13 12

Source: Source: World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report Indicators,
(2010 - 2016), as published in National Competitiveness Council website

Moreover, while the 2016 RCS Result reveals that 88.54% of agencies passed, the call volume
serviced by Hotline 8888 proves otherwise. Out of the 54,743 calls serviced by the Hotline from August -
December 2016, 31.49 % were complaints. 7,152 were Anti-Red Tape Act (ARTA)-related concerns.
Complaints include: (a) slow process (b) unclear procedures (c) discourtesy (d) unattended assistance
numbers (e) failure to attend to clients during office hours (f) extortion (g) fixers (h) poor facilities and (h)
imposition of additional costs (Bondoc, 2017).

Since the ARTA was enacted in 2007 and it’s implementing rules and regulations were issued by the
Civil Service Commission, the Citizen’s Charter was treated like a magic wand that would reduce red tape
and ensure the prompt delivery of government service to the public. After an initial burst of efficiency,
however, it was back to “normal” in government offices (Palabrica, 2016).

The drop in rank of the Philippines in global competitiveness index, and the growing number of
ARTA-related complaints serviced by 8888 since it was publicly announced by President Duterte in August
2016, substantiates the need to revisit the extent of our effort in fighting red tape.

On one note, the red tape situation should be taken seriously by our public servants, in view that “the
governed” already has a declining trust on the “government of the day.” (EON International Philippine Trust
Index Survey, 2015).

IV. Did ARTA Improved Frontline Service Delivery? YES… in some way

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The ARTA helped improve frontline service delivery when evaluated based on the following criteria:
(a) Ease of Doing Business Index (b) Agencies Passing the ARTA RCS; and (c) Successes of Stories of
service offices (SOs) reengineering efforts and institutional reforms.

A. Ease of Doing Business

The “Ease of Doing Business” Report of the World Bank is one of the empirical measures of the
performance of the Philippines in streamlining its processes and procedures. It measures sub-indices such
as procedures, time and cost spent in starting a business, dealing with permits and licenses, property
registration, application for electricity, paying taxes, etc. (Doing Business in Philippines, 2016).

Since the ease of doing business index is meant to measure regulations directly affecting
businesses, it reflects how business-friendly or investment-friendly a bureaucratic environment is. The
higher the ranking of a particular country in ease of doing business, the more likely that foreign investors
will invest, which in turn, will boost its economy. The report is above all, a benchmark for study of business
regulations in countries (Wikipedia.com, 2017).

How did the Philippines fare in the Ease of Doing Business Ranking?

The 2007 Report on the Ease of Doing Business of the World Bank shows that the Philippines was
ranked No. 126 (Doing Business 2007, 2006). The ARTA was passed on the same year that the report
was released, hence enforcement was not yet ripe. Ten years later, after control mechanisms against red
tape were established, the Philippines was ranked No. 99 (Doing Bussiness 2017, 2016).

The Ease of Doing Business Comparative Graph (Table 1) below shows performance of the
Philippines in Ease of Doing Business over the years.

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Table 1. Ease of Doing Business Report 2008-2016

Source: www. tradingeconomics.com

Based on the above data, the ranking of the Philippines has improved over the years. While the
data showed that the Philippines dropped two (2) notches lower from rank 97th in 2014 to 99th in 2015, its
ranking remained at No. 99 in 2016.

The National Competitiveness Council (NCC), an attached agency of the DTI, and a public-private
task force that monitors the performance of the country in global competitiveness indicators said that the
country has gained “49 spots” in the Doing Business report since 2011 (Mercurio, 2016). In view thereof,
alongside agency -specific (e.g DTI, SEC) reform efforts and strategies, the ARTA has in some way, helped
improve business processes and procedures.

B. Percentage of Agencies Passing the ARTA Report Card Survey (RCS)

The ARTA Report Card Survey (RCS) is a participative mechanism to check red tape as it is
founded on the greatest outcome indicator- client satisfaction/feedback.

The Selection of agencies that were subjected to RCS was based on the density of transactions
and number of complaints or feedback received through the CCB. It also focused on local Government
Units (LGUs) and agencies providing social services (Result of 2016 Report Card Survey, 2016)

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The table below shows the percentage of agencies passing the RCS across the years.

Qualitative Rating % OF AGENCIES BASED ON QUALITATIVE RATING


2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016

Excellent/Outstanding 4% 8% 22% 26% 32.5% 14.06%


Good 27% 52% 60% 62% 62.5 66.64%
Acceptable 42% 15% 7% 8% 4% 7.84%
Failed 27% 25% 7% 4% 1% 11.45%

Sources: 2011-2014 RCS- Breakthrough, Game Changers in Public Frontline Service Delivery
Coffee Table Book; 2015 RCS- https://inaracetoserve.wordpress.com; 2016 RCS- http://news.pia.gov.ph

The 2011- 2014 data on RCS showed improved percentage of agencies passing1 with decreasing
percentage of agencies failing2. Though the percentage of agencies passing the RCS in 2016 was lower
when compared to 2015 data, it is still higher when compared to data five years ago (2011). Hence, the
ARTA has improved frontline services.

C. Success Stories

Paradigm shifts and successes of agencies in reengineering their systems and procedures to
improve frontline services were published in 2015 in “Breakthrough: Game Changers in Public Frontline
Service Delivery.3” Below are excerpts from stories in the Coffee Table Book:

Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth)

As part of Philhealth’s operational improvement, the GOCC scrapped off birth certificate, marriage
certificate, and voter’s ID from its list of requirements. The agency has veered away from the usual attitude
of mistrust towards the transacting public. Atty. Alexander A. Padilla, former CEO and President of

1
Agencies with qualitative rating of “Acceptable, ”Good,” and “Excellent and/or Outstanding”
2
Agencies with qualitative rating of “Failed”
3
An ARTA Coffee Table Book published by the Civil Service Commission in 2015

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Philhealth said, “We simply trust our members when they fill-up a statement at the end of the form which
states that all their written information are true.”
One of its Local Health Insurance Offices, Philhealth Santiago City, updates its members on due
payments and benefits through SMS. Moreover, its Local Health Insurance Office head, Mr. Joseph D.
Reyes knew that clients hesitate to provide feedback through the suggestion box. Thus, clients are
encouraged to send feedback via the manager’s personal mobile number which is indicated in its feedback
mechanism posters (Breakthrough: Game Changers in Public Frontline Service Delivery, 2015).

Home Development Mutual Fund (PAGIBIG)- Naga City Branch

The PAIGIBIG Naga City branch has innovated a frontline queuing system so that frontline service
officers can easily manage the queue, track, prioritize and organize its records. The system was developed
in-house using old computers which were restored and reprogrammed with just an P18, 000 budget.
Recycling old computers saved the branch from purchasing P200, 000.00 worth of brand new computers.

Apart from system enhancement, the branch bragged that it has capitalized on improving its
human resource. Each service officer was trained on the intricacies of agency’s processes and procedures
in order to become more knowledgeable. As a result, dedicated counters for each type of service were
removed, and customers can transact with any counter as each service officer can already accommodate
all types of services. (Breakthrough: Game Changers in Public Frontline Service Delivery, 2015).
.
Department of Trade and Industry

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Tabuk City, Kalinga branch has collaborated with
stakeholders in implementing its programs and projects. Branch initiatives include Cooperative Monitoring,
Evaluation and Research, Monitoring System for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, and Mainstreaming
Knowledge Management. The branch, through a radio program disseminates information on its services
and intensifies its anti-fixer campaign. It also provides a short-message service (SMS) to its clients needing
special attention. Clients can send an SMS to a DTI Officer and they will be accommodated at the customer
lounge of the office.

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To incentivize performing DTI Offices, former DTI Secretary Gregorio L. Domingo said that the
agency provides P500, 000- P1, 000, 000 budget augmentation to further improve the offices’ facilities and
services.

Inspired with efficiency culture from the private sector, Sec. Domingo lamented, “Government
rules and regulations are a big negative to productivity. In the private sector, you are allowed to make
mistakes in order to come up with the best results. Government processes are bogged down with many
steps and levels of clearances to ensure that there are no errors. This is what comes out as
‘BUREAUCRACY.’ (Breakthrough: Game Changers in Public Frontline Service Delivery, 2015).

Dr. Serapio B. Monatañer Jr. Al Haj Memorial Hospital, Lanao del Sur

Apart from client feedback forms, Dr. Romeo G. Monatañer, Chief of Dr. Serapio B. Monatañer
Jr. Al Haj Memorial Hospital does spot-client feedback to keep the hospital staff on its toes. Every
management meeting, Dr. Monatañer will randomly call an available client to join the meeting. The client
will be asked to evaluate the quality of service he has availed, and will be asked to provide suggestions on
improving the hospital’s services. This strategy has helped the hospital improve its services.

The above stories were just few of the many victories of agencies in reforming their systems,
processes and procedures to become frontline service exemplars. The Civil Service Commission,
alongside recognizing ARTA best practices, has also established a Service Delivery and Excellence
Program (SDEP) in order to help agencies/offices that failed in the ARTA RCS reingineer their systems,
and imbibed public service values in service officers (Breakthrough: Game Changers in Public Frontline
Service Delivery, 2015).
.

IV. ISSUES, CHALLENGES AND RECOMMENDATIONS

A. ARTA Disciplinary Provisions

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The existing ARTA disciplinary provisions include a 30-day suspension without pay for light
offenses and mandatory attendance to values orientation program; three-month suspension without pay
for second offense; and dismissal and perpetual disqualification from service for third offense. On the
other hand, the penalty for grave offenses such as fixing is dismissal and perpetual disqualification from
service with a P20,000.00- P200,000.00 sanction (ARTA Implementing Rules and Regulations, Section
1, Rule VIII-Disciplinary Actions).
In view of the increase in the compensation of public officials and employees brought by the
recently enacted salary standardization law (SSL), the P20, 000. 00 – P200, 000 penalty may not be as
valuable as before. Simply put, the perks accrued from fixing activities may just be higher than the cost of
violating the ARTA alone.
Hence, there is a need to review the sanctions to check these are still at par with the evolving
demands of public service. A strategic and more flexible solution would be to enforce a cost of penalty
based on a factor of salary, such that:

Light/First Offense- 30-day suspension without pay + 50% of a service officer’s


annual gross income at the time of the commission of offense + fixing costs, if there
were any

Second Offense- three-month suspension without pay + 70% of a service of a


service officer’s annual gross income at the time of the commission of the offense
+ fixing costs, if there were any

Third/Grave Offense- dismissal and perpetual disqualification from service + 100%


of a service officer’s annual gross income at the time of the commission of the
offense + fixing costs, if there were any

Further, while Section 1, Rule V of the IRR provides that the head of an agency/office is primarily
responsible and accountable for the implementation of ARTA (ARTA Implementing Rules and Regulations,
2007), administrative sanctions for heads of most complained service offices/ or those consistently failing
the ARTA RCS (habitually delinquent agencies) should be strengthened, such that, an accountable agency
head with direct supervision over the erring service officer should bear the same disciplinary sanctions.

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B. Create a Multi-sector Bureaucratic Audit and Advisory Board or Council (MBAAB/C)

The existing key players in the implementation of the ARTA are the Civil Service Commission
(CSC), the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) and the Office of the Ombudsman. Within the
Civil Service Commission’s Public Assistance and Information Office is a small ARTA Project Management
Unit, with few personnel complement doing the bulk of technical work.

While hiring additional technical people or project managers may sound helpful, with the
seriousness and urgency of the red tape situation nationwide, and with over a million of government
employees to monitor and indoctrinate on public service values and efficiency, the CSC needs a more
collaborative and sound ARTA strategy.

A Multi-sector Bureaucratic Audit and Advisory Board or Council may be reconstituted with inter-
agency members composed of the Civil Service Commission (CSC), the National Economic and
Development Authority (NEDA), the National Competitiveness Council (NCC), the Development Academy
of the Philippines (DAP), the Office of the Ombudsman, the Department of Interior and Local Government
(DILG), the Commission on Audit (COA), and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Other sectors should also be equally represented, through membership of: (a) a representative
from a Non-Government Organization (NGOs) with strong ARTA advocacy to speak for the people
(b)representatives from the business sector (e.g Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Makati
Business Club, etc) (c) representatives from the academe of leading higher educational institutions such
as the UP-NCPAG; and (d) President of the Confederation of Employee Unions to represent the service
officers . The Board shall directly report its accomplishments to the Office of the Cabinet Secretary (OCS)
under the Office of the President.

The Multi Sector Bureaucratic Audit and Advisory Board shall develop a Strategic ARTA
Management Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Framework, perform periodic assessment of the red
tape situation in the country, develop action plans, and establish a common regulatory impact analysis/tool

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that will be used to measure administrative burdens across offices. Regulatory policies, such as executive,
department, administrative orders/circulars, legislation and ordinances should pass the screening process
for regulatory impact analysis/evaluation to ensure that these are research-based, consultative,
results/outcome-driven, have simplified implementation plan/framework, and will not unfavorable effects on
the performance of the country in global competitiveness indicators.

The “Project Repeal” of the DTI- NCC is a very good project to start with. It aims to clean up regulations
and legislation by repealing provisions or rules that are no longer necessary or may be detrimental to the economy
(Luz, 2017). The overall goal is to reduce the cost of compliance for entrepreneurs and the cost of administration and
enforcement for the government (Luz, 2017).

The CSC as the key implementer of ARTA should find a way to help institutionalize the “Project
Repeal,” or at least enhance the project by pushing for repeal, not just of policies that benefits the business
sector, but also those that has a bearing on the “commoners” such as frontline and social services.

Since the Board, by principle of “catalytic government,” (Osborne and Gaebler, 1992) capitalizes on
the private sector and NGOs in helping solve societal problems, and uses inter-agency coalitions, the
government can develop strategic ARTA initiatives and will have a stronger foundation for enforcement. As
a support mechanism, the interagency members can issue joint administrative orders (JAOs) in support of
its trust to eradicate ARTA.

C. Develop a Comprehensive Regulatory Impact Analysis or Evaluation Tool to Measure Administrative


Burdens

The OECD Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) in Europe has been assisting member and non-
member economies in building and strengthening their regulatory reform efforts. It has become a platform to
help countries adapt regulatory policies, tools and institutions, and learn from each other’s experience.
(Regulatory Policy Committee, 2017). Since its institution in 2002, the RPC has been consistently conducting
research, dialogues and best practices sharing among member and non-member states.

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The RPC Expert Paper No. 1, s. 2012 on Measuring Regulatory Performance (Coglianese, 2012),
presents a sample policy evaluation tool4 used by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
to check the impact of its policies. Also, the government of Ireland has a RIA Screening5 Tool for its agencies
(OECD Regulatory Policy Division, 2008) which can serve as guide for the Philippines.

Since RIA has been successful in OECD and Scandinavian countries, our government should adopt
and institutionalize a comprehensive Regulatory Impact Analysis or Evaluation Tool to measure
administrative burdens not just of existing regulatory policies, but even of proposed policies or regulations by
service offices. The tool should also feature social indicators to assess impact on cultures, norms and other
societal values.

4
See Box 1, pp. 16
5
See Box 2, pp.17

15
Source: https://www.oecd.org/gov/regulatory-policy/1_coglianese%20web.pdf, pp. 20

Box 2. Screening RIA in Ireland

16
Source: http://www.oecd.org/gov/regulatory-policy/40984990.pdf

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D. Include ARTA Score in Agency Performance Indicators, in Budget Deliberation and in the
Guidelines for the Grant of Performance-based Bonus (PBB).

An assessment of agency performance indicators of most complained service offices such as the
Bureau of Customs (BOC) reveals that the major final outputs (MFO) was too focused on tax collection,
revenue generation and apprehension of people. The only Qualitative ARTA indicator was Client Satisfaction
based on “compliance to Citizen’s Charter” and “rating of policies as good, better, best” (Bureau Form B-
Performance Indicator, 2012).

In order intensify ARTA enforcement, the CSC should collaborate with DBM to require as an MFO
or performance measure of service offices, the “Overall ARTA Score” which will include (a) the ARTA RCS
Rating (b) Number of ARTA-related Complaints received by the Hotline 8888; and (c) result of RIA Evaluation
Score6 of its policies and regulations.

The above factors should also be considered in justifying budget augmentations and the Guidelines
on the Grant of the Performance-based Bonuses (DBM Memo Circular 2017-1, 2017).

E. Feedback Mechanisms

Customer-driven governments as introduced by Osborne and Gaebler (1992) are governments that
make an effort to perceive the needs of customers or the people. They use surveys and focus groups to listen
to their customers. This concept is crucial to participatory and inclusive governance, hence it is important that
our government has a quicker and simpler feedback platform. While feedback mechanisms are in place in
most government offices, these mechanisms require tedious effort and too much formality. In pursuing a
complaint alone, transparent imposition/enforcement of administrative penalties (none self-serving) remains
a question.

Though most service offices have Suggestion Boxes and Public Action and Complaints Desks
(PACD), these should be monitored to assess functionality. Spot surveys should be intensified. More
importantly the general public should be educated available feedback mechanisms and should be

6
Requires the development of a RIA Evaluation Tool

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empowered to provide feedback. In this light, the CSC has been conducting ARTA Caravans across the
nation to educate the public of the mechanisms available to them.

Apart from the abovementioned strategies, streamlining feedback mechanisms may prove effective
if platforms are readily available online. A more comprehensive online feedback mechanism, embracing all
government agencies may be developed. One good example that should be replicated by the Philippines is
the eCitizen portal used by the Government of Singapore. The portal accords the Singaporeans an online
platform where they can provide feedback on a particular government policy or issue; and feedback
/complaints are automatically coursed to the relevant government/action agencies. Action agencies will then
address the issues/concerns (https://www.reach.gov.sg/) raised by citizens.

F. Capacitate and Cultivate Public Service Ethos in Public Servants

Alongside corruption and red tape, the public sector is also proliferated with inefficiency (Brilliantes
Jr. & Fernandez, 2011). If every initiative against red tape is a failure, the problem could be deeper –either
competency gap or ethical orientation. Hence, there is a need to re-indoctrinate service officers with Public
service values, and improve their technical competencies.

The government of Singapore has been a living model to the success of training on reforming its
public servants and institutions. The Singaporean Civil Service Institute has cultivated ethos in public service
and made Administrative Service Officers (AOs) more concerned, responsible and responsive to national
welfare. The PS21 (Public Service for the 21st Century) introduced concepts such as performance indicators
to improve efficiency and build competencies in the public service (Low, 2015)

Relative thereto, training and cultivating public service ethos should be made more economical and
accessible to all. This could be done in the form of: (a)geographical expansion of government training
institutions such as the Civil Service Institute (CSI), the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), and
the Local Government Academy (LGA), (b) forging a partnership with forerunner Public Administration State
Universities and Colleges (SUCS) such as the UP-NCPAG (University of the Philippines–National College of
Public Administration and Governance); and (c) Including in the curricula of schools the Modules on Ethics,
Accountability, and Service Delivery Excellence. Government employees especially in the most marginalized

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areas, Local Government Units (LGUs), and most complained service offices will definitely benefit from these
strategies.

V. CONCLUDING NOTES

In our fight against red tape, the value of a strong political will cannot be overemphasized. To my
view, President Rodrigo Duterte is just in time. No leader in the history of the Philippines raised a strong fist
against bureaucratic red tape, corruption and inefficiency.

However it should be noted that a visionary leader is feeble if not supported by civil servants of merit
and fitness, who knows the intricacies of strategic and operational frameworks for reforms.

. In order to fight red tape, paradigm shift is a must. As citizens, we need to refrain from
overdependence on regulatory agencies in solving our bureaucratic and social dilemmas. We needed to be
part of a mobilized sector of the citizenry- an NGO/CSO volunteer who works, an academe with strong
philosophical values who critics yet asserts solutions; and a vigilant and informed public.

More importantly, the public servants should be guided by Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy on
SERVICE-ABILITY; but for purposes of this paper, the word “customer” will be substituted into the word “A
Filipino” for contextual application in the Philippine bureaucracy:

“A Filipino (customer) is the most important visitor in our premises.

He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him.

He is not an interruption of our work. He is the purpose of it.

He is not an outsider of our business. He is part of it.

We are not doing him a favour by serving him.

He is doing us a favour by giving us the opportunity to do so.”

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RFERENCES

1. ARTA Project Status Report. (2015). Civil Service Commission. Retrieved from
http://www.csc.gov.ph/iTransparency/file_upload/CSC%20CO/2015/566E3CB538991.pdf

2. Bondoc, J. (2017 January 20). Some Suggestions for Hotline 8888. The Philippine Star. Retrieved
from http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2017/01/20/1664383/some-suggestions-hotline-8888

3. Breakthrough: Game Changers in Public Frontline Service Delivery. (2015). Civil Service
Commission. An ARTA Coffee Table Book.

4. Brilliantes Jr, A. & Fernadez, M. (2011). “Restoring Trust and Building Integrity in the Government:
Issues and Concerns in the Philippines and Areas for Reform,” a paper presented at the 2nd
Annual International Conference of the Asian Association for Public Administration, held on
February 7-9 2011 at the University of Indonesia. International Public Management Review.
Retrieved from http://ncpag.upd.edu.ph/wp- content/uploads/2014/03/Brillantes-
Fernandes_IPMR_Volume-12_Issue-2.pdf

5. Bureau of Customs Agency Performance Indicator (2012). Retrieved from customs.gov.ph/wp-


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