Press Release
September 25, 2016

Recto : Palace must review, monitor "anti-red tape, fast action" targets of underlings

Malacanang was told to familiarize itself with the "anti-red tape and quick response" targets that its underlings have promised the public in the 2017 national budget so it would know if pledges of fast document processing and rapid reaction to distress calls are being met.

The call was made by Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto who said that some sort of sanction must be meted to agencies that would fail to deliver speedy service.

"Hind ba galit ang Pangulo sa mahabang pila? Kaya dapat malaman nila sa Palasyo kung anu-anong mabilis na serbisyo ang ipinangako ng kanyang mga appointees," Recto said.

The pledges, attached to budget requests of agencies, range from "a seven-minute response time of firemen to alarms, to a 15-minute maximum crime scene arrival of police officers, to delivery of car plates and stickers in seven days, to a 'gone in 40 seconds' in immigration arrival gates," Recto said.

Other targets include the pledge of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration that "100 percent of all OFW requests for assistance be acted upon within 24 hours and the Department of Transportation's vow that light rail trains will have an average speed of 50 kilometers per hour."

Recto said that the Philippine Statistics Authority, keeper and issuer of civil registration records, said 96 percent of requested documents will be released within the prescribed time.

While it gave no specific target, the Department of Foreign Affairs said it would render service that will be rated "good or better" by 90 percent of passport applicants.

The Bureau of Customs has also issued timetables in the processing of cargoes.

On the part of the National Bureau of Investigation, it committed to process clearances within 10 minutes, while the Land Registration Authority has promised a 20-day deadline in the issuance of land titles.

Recto said even infrastructure projects are now bound by performance guarantees, with the Department of Public Works and Highways boldly assuring that 100 percent of road projects will be completed on time.

Recto, however, called for a change in many perfomance benchmarks as some are misleading and do not guarantee fast service.

He said that "processing time" target for some documents is clocked the moment the document is handed over to the government employee and "does not count the time spent in queues."

"Kung 10 minutes nga lang ang actual processing time, pero limang oras ka sa pila, nasaan ang mabilis na aksyon doon? So this kind of target cleverly camouflages red tape," Recto said.

As part of recent budgeting reforms, "countable outputs" are linked to appropriations, with specific funds given to an agency in exchange for a specific set of deliverables.

But Recto's call is limited to anti-red tape pledges only which, he said, the Palace must closely monitor as President Duterte was elected on the promise of quick government action "and given his legendary disdain for government offices that make people wait."

Recto said Malacanang should also take a second look at the performance guarantees and assess if the deadlines, for example, are too long. "Marami d'yan na sobrang bagal at tagal."

He said many agencies also did not submit "promissory notes" so there is no basis to gauge performance and reward good work.

Many promises contained in the previous budgets, he noted, "especially on traffic," have disappeared in the 2017 national budget.

For easy monitoring, Recto urged Malacanang "to collate in one menu" all the important targets, particularly the maximum processing time for commonly requested documents.

"Ito kasi yung kanilang contract with the people, para malaman natin kung sino ang sumusunod at sino ang hindi."

Recto said it will not be a mere enumeration of promises, but essentially a listing of the provisions of law "because the national budget is a republic act."

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