President Duterte signed Monday the Ease of Doing Act of 2018 to solve the perennial problem of bureaucratic red tape in government institutions.
Duterte, in his speech during the signing Monday evening, said the long overdue law aims to resolve the unbearable and complicated process of doing business in the country.
The Ease of Doing Business Act aims to shorten the number of days in processing permits and licenses for all business-related transactions, as well as impose stricter rules, which include a two-strike policy on erring government officials who failed to comply to issue permits within a given period.
“This law will introduce simplified requirements and streamlined procedures that will finally spare our people from the intolerable waiting time and long lines in frontline government agencies,” Duterte said.
According to the President, one of the most significant features of the new law is the standardization of the processing time for government transactions.
Following the signing of the bill into law, agencies are now required to process simple transactions within three days, complex transactions in seven days, and highly technical transactions in 20 days.
The law also limits to a maximum of three signatories for applications for licenses, clearances, permits, certifications and authorizations. Electronic signatures will also be recognized, and a zero-contact policy will be implemented to avoid improprieties.
Duterte said that local governments are also mandated to automate their business permit and licensing systems, to set up one-stop business facilitation services, and to use online unified business application forms. This complements the mandate of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to automate business-related transactions through web-based software and technological platforms.
“By automating our bureaucratic processes and integrating online mechanisms in day-to-day transactions, we do not just bring our people closer to their government. We also forge a vibrant and productive relationship that will redound to the benefit of the people,” he said.
Duterte also reiterated the one of the aims of his government’s Ten-Point Socio-Economic Agenda encourage competitiveness and improve the overall business environment.
“We intend to accomplish that by promoting integrity, accountability and good governance in all government transactions,” he said.
Meanwhile, Duterte expressed frustration that government offices seem to be unable to understand or implement simple mechanics.
Duterte was referring to his previous order to government agencies to process papers within 30 days, and directors within 15 days.
“In spite or despite of that warning, there seems to be an inadequate or a haphazard implementation of those suggested procedures,” he said.
“I am not attributing any of the Cabinet members there. It could be a failure in the lower echelons of government,” he added.
He also expressed exasperation about how legislation is still needed so business processes in the Philippines can be done in a faster rate.
“So exasperating. Nahihiya ako sa tao. Bakit ganoon ang nangyayari sa gobyerno? And I seem to be at a loss kung paano kita—kung patayin kita o ipa-DDS, kita o sagasaan? Nakakahiya (I am embarrassed by what’s happening with the government. And I seem to be at a loss on how I should deal with you. Should I have you killed? It’s embarrassing),” he said.
“That would take congress to—it’s a very simple standards. I suppose that the Executive Department can do it. Congress na ito. Kung sa atin-atin lang medyo magkahiyaan pa. Pero tayo dito napapahiya talaga ako (This is Congress now. If it’s just with us, then maybe we can do something. But I am really ashamed),” he added.
Duterte then thanked the Congress for cooperating and coming up with the law that reinforces his resolve to expedite the process of doing business with government.
“I’m quite satisfied with our relationship. Thank you for the cooperation that you have extended me. I’m very happy,” he said.
Duterte then warned government officials to not let complaints reach now, especially complaints from ordinary Filipinos, or there would be trouble.
“Ano’ng generation mo kaya ma-correct itong mga to (On which generation can we finally correct this)?” he said.
“Kaya ‘pag nagpunta ‘yan sa akin ‘yun na. Magka-problema na tayo. Especially in justice (If they come to me then that’s it. We will really have a problem. Especially if it’s about justice),” he added.
The President has promised businessmen, especially foreign entrepreneurs who want to invest in the country, a hassle-free way of processing their papers in the Philippines.
He had also vowed to streamline processes in government offices so ordinary Filipinos would not have to bare waiting hours in long lines just to have their papers processed.