There is nothing wrong with the spot-checking conducted by the Civil Service Commission in any government office, including the Senate of the Philippines, the Anti-Red Tape Authority’s top official said Thursday.
ARTA Director General Jeremiah Belgica dismissed the issues surrounding the fact-checking done by the CSC in the Senate, as well as in any government office.
This was after Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the CSC had no jurisdiction over the lawmaking body due to the separation of powers of the Legislative and Executive branches of government under the Constitution.
Belgica said that if even an ordinary individual or taxpayer had a right to inquire about a certain government agency, what more can the CSC, which ensures that services are provided adequately and accordingly by that agency.
In a press statement, Belgica said: “I think the issue about the fact-checking being done by the Civil Service lies with the surprise visits. I’m not familiar with the [Senate’s] issues or problem there, but I believe, if the question is whether the Civil Service has the jurisdiction or authority, [they can do it]. I think even ordinary citizens can check government agencies if they are doing their jobs.”
If government agencies are not hiding anything, they should be open to spot checking, Belgica added. He urged all government regulatory agencies and disciplining bodies like the CSC to conduct inspections in other government offices as warranted.
“In fact, I would encourage all government regulatory agencies and disciplining bodies to do spot checking regardless of what agency it is. Of course with due respect still with our co-equal bodies,” Belgica added.
Spot checking was done to make sure that government offices are corruption-free, he explained.
Belgica pointed out that like the CSC, the ARTA has its own charter to follow.
“I’m sure Sen. Sotto actually really knows what he’s saying, but at the same time our Constitution has really provided checks and balances as well so I guess I’ll leave it as is,” he said.
He noted that the ARTA monitors a Citizens Charter on all government agencies.
“In fact by December 6, the requirements for all government agencies is to submit to us a revised Citizens Charter, which coincides with a 3-day, 7-days, 20-days processing time. All transactions with the government cannot exceed that,” Belgica said.
He also pointed to the Executive Order for Freedom of Information signed by President Rodrigo Duterte, with gives freedom to any Filipino citizen to inspect government agencies in the pursuit of transparency.
“If one thinks about it, the Civil Service is a constitutional body. What I understand is maybe what they were referring to that the ARTA received the jobs, were those in relation to the Citizen’s Charter, those ‘no noon breaks,’ those are within the ARTA [scope], which is why we are conducting surprise inspections,” Belgica said.
“But there are some Civil Service standard issues which are not within our reach. So I believe this is within the jurisdiction of the CSC,” he ended.