The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading Friday night a bill authorizing President Duterte to expedite the processing and issuance of national and local permits, licenses and certifications in times of national emergency.
House Bill No. 7884 is principally authored by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez.
Prior to the bill’s approval in the plenary session, the House was convened into a Committee of the Whole to consider and approve the measure at the committee level, setting the stage for second and third reading approval.
Deputy Speaker and 1-Pacman Rep. Michael Romero presided over the Committee of the Whole, with Pampanga Pampanga Rep. Juan Pablo Bondoc as majority floor leader.
Earlier, Romualdez said the House has committed to pass the bill as soon as it receives the letter of certification from Malacañang.
“Upon the directive of the President and the instruction of Speaker Velasco, the House of Representatives will work on the passage of the anti-red tape measure before we adjourn the special session,” said Romualdez, chair of the House Committee on Rules, adding that the measure is in support of President Duterte’s directives for efficient coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) response.
Last Wednesday, Velasco and Romualdez led the filing of HB 7884 or An Act Authorizing the President to Expedite the Processing and Issuance of National and Local Permits, Licenses, and Certifications to accelerate the country’s socioeconomic recovery and ensure an effective government response to the present health crisis.
Section 2 of the measure gives President Duterte the authority to suspend the requirements for national and local permits, licenses and certifications, and to streamline and expedite the process of issuance.
The bill covers all agencies of the Executive branch, including departments, bureaus, offices, commissions, boards, councils; government instrumentalities, government owned and controlled corporations.
“One of the strategic measures is to reduce transaction costs in all government agencies and provide an efficient delivery of its services while maintaining integrity and accountability in government service and the promotion of transparency in the transactions of the government with the public, encompassing a program for the adoption of simplified requirements and procedures,” the authors led by Speaker Velasco and Romualdez said.
The bill seeks to authorize the President of the Philippines to expedite the processing and issuance of national and local permits, licenses and certifications in times of national emergency.
Under the measure, the President shall have the authority to accelerate and streamline regulatory processes and procedures for new and pending applications and renewals of permits, licenses, clearances, certifications or authorizations.
The proposed law also empowers the President to fix or shorten the periods for the processing and release of these documents.
The bill also grants the President the power to suspend or waive the requirements in securing such permits, licenses, clearances, certifications or authorizations.
In consultation with or upon the recommendation of the affected government agencies, HB 7884 may prescribe the permanent streamlining of regulatory processes and procedures, and the suspension or waiver of the requirements in securing the documents.
But Section 2 of the proposed legislation shall not be used to “undermine the existing procedures and processes, under applicable laws, rules and regulations, meant to protect the environment, especially those that aim to safeguard protected areas and its buffer zones, and environmentally critical areas.”
Under Section 3 of the measure, the President has the power to suspend or remove any government official or employee performing acts contrary to the measure consistent with Article VII Sections 1 and 17 of the Constitution, the Revised Administrative Code, other existing laws, and jurisprudence.
Other authors of the bill are Reps. Yedda Marie K. Romualdez (Tingog party-list), Weslie Gatchalian (Valenzuela City), Wilter “Sharky” Wee Palma II (Zamboanga Sibugay), Alfredo A. Garbin Jr. (Ako Bicol party-list), Juan Miguel “Mikey” Macapagal Arroyo (Pampanga), Michael John R. Duavit (Rizal), Jesus Crispin C. Remulla (Cavite), Wilfrido Mark M. Enverga (Quezon), Xavier Jesus D. Romualdo (Camiguin), Sharon S. Garin (AAMBIS-OWA party-list), Julienne “Jam” L. Baronda (Iloilo City), Kristine Singson-Meehan (Ilocos Sur), Bernadette “BH” Herrera (Bagong Henerasyon party-list), Jose “Bonito” C. Singson Jr. (Probinsyano Ako party-list), Doy C. Leachon (Oriental Mindoro), Michael “Mikee” L. Romero, Eric M. Martinez (Valenzuela City), Arnolfo “Arnie” A. Teves Jr. (Negros Oriental), Francisco “Kiko” B. Benitez (Negros Occidental), Munir M. Arbison (Sulu), Michael Edgar Y. Aglipay (DIWA party-list), Joseph Stephen “Caraps” S. Paduano (Abang Lingkod), and John Reynald M. Tiangco (Navotas).
The Senate, meanwhile, passed a similar measure filed by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto in the hope that the massive proliferation or red tape in the government would be eradicated from the bureaucracy.
Recto had filed Senate Bill 1844 of An Act authorizing the President to expedite the processing and issuance of national and local permits, licenses and certifications.
“Defeating red tape, it should be obvious by now, is bureaucracy’s Holy Grail,” Recto said. Recto said that the Senate intends to pass the latest legislation to shorten the requirements and speed up the process in securing government permits.
On top of such laws, he said, are the performance guarantees which form part of an agency’s deliverables in the annual budget.
“As if these were not enough, red tape is among the favorite presidential talking points, whether he is out in the field, or inside Malacañang addressing officials,” said Recto.
Since Day One of his term, Recto said the President has threatened those who sit on applications, often with every torture method imaginable.
But the new Senate bill, Recto said, would grant enough leeway for the President to cut the Gordian knot that chokes the permits for projects the country and the consumers need. It gives wide elbow room but not unli powers such as those given to kings during the Dark Ages.
The bottomline, he said, is that it will allow the President to increase the velocity of the application and approval of permits. It grants him the power to set the minimum speed.
As Senate approved on third reading the bill to simplify bureaucratic processes, Sen. Bong Go likewise underscored the need for a whole-of-nation approach to curb corruption and cut red tape
He said this will improve ease of doing business as well as strengthen the fight against corruption.
Go, who is co-author and co-sponsor of the measure, lauded the passage of the bill in the Senate, saying that swifter and more efficient conduct of government transactions during times of national emergencies can also set a benchmark to improve government processes even during normal times.
He hopes this is the start of real change in how the government delivers public services. He also encouraged Filipinos to help in the efforts to improve public service delivery by reporting wrongdoings or inefficiencies they experience in government processes.