Calls for systems overhaul in bureaucracy, asks private sector for help
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has asked the private sector for help amid his plan to intensify the fight against rampant smuggling in the country, Malacañang said on Saturday.
Mr. Marcos, in a meeting with the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) at Malacañang in Manila on Thursday, lamented that the present system is “not working,” despite efforts to curb smuggling.
“To be brutally frank about it, we have a system, but they are not working. The smuggling here in this country is absolutely rampant. So, it does not matter to me how many systems we have in place, they do not work,” he told PSAC, as quoted by the Presidential Communications Office (PCO).
“So, we really have to find something else. We cannot continue to depend on these systems, which have already proven themselves to be quite ineffective.”
Mr. Marcos said concerned government agencies must step up and be “more innovative” to address rampant smuggling, PCO Secretary Cheloy Garafil said in a statement.
Garafil said Mr. Marcos emphasized the need to delineate the government’s functions or establish new agencies, if needed, to become effective.
The Chief Executive, she said, particularly wants reform in the bureaucracy to curb smuggling, reduce logistics costs and ensure ease of doing business as his government works to prop up investments and business activity in the country.
Mr. Marcos acknowledged that issues on the ease of doing business and the inefficiency of the country’s airports and seaports are the “major complaints” he is receiving from the business sector, Garafil added.
“Whether the systems are ineffective or whether it’s the way they’re being operated or the result of side deals by the people, the end result is that the systems currently in place are not working,” she said quoting the President.
“The government cannot continue to sweep the issue under the rug because the cost to the state and private businesses is enormous, the President pointed out.”
Garafil noted that opening the database to the Bureau of Customs and the Department of Agriculture was one of the recommendations made during Marcos’ meeting with the PSAC to ensure the “efficient sharing of information.”
“Officials said it is a way of correlating information to fight smuggling. Even enforcers, they said, have a problem going after smugglers because of the documentary requirements or the paper chase,” she said.
Meanwhile, five months since their initial meeting last August, in another discussion with President Marcos on Thursday, the PSAC Digital Infrastructure group already showed fruitful results of their collaborations with government agencies.
PSAC Digital Infrastructure lead and Union Bank of the Philippines (UnionBank) Chief Technology and Operations Officer Henry Aguda reported to the President that since the July 2020 implementation of the Anti-Red Tape Authority’s (ARTA) Joint Memorandum Circulars (JMC) to streamline guidelines on telco towers and Internet infrastructure, there has been great improvement in the efficiency of telco permit processing.
For shared telco tower infrastructures, processing time has dropped from eight months to a mere 16 days, permit requirements dropped from 13 permits to eight, and documentary requirements dropped from 86 to 35.
Additionally, for the building of poles, construction of underground fiber ducts, and installation of aerial and underground cable and facilities to support Internet infrastructure, processing time was immensely shortened from two and a half years to just two and a half months.
This translated to an over 300 percent increase in tower construction or 7,000 built towers.