Zubiri: Duterte’s ‘frustrations’ in ease of doing business law a ‘slap’ to ARTA, me
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Thursday said he considers President Rodrigo Duterte’s frustrations over the implementation of the ease of doing business law a “slap” to him and the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA).
During Duterte’s meeting with leaders of Congress, Senate President Vicente Sotto III revealed the President is willing to be “summoned” to put more teeth to the ease of doing business law.
“I was just asked today by the media because the President came out in an interview saying he wants to amend the Ease of Doing Business because wala daw nangyayari…That surprises me because what does he mean by that?” Zubiri said during the Senate hearing of ARTA’s proposed 2021 budget.
“If he says that today, either he does not know about it, that we have all these powers, we have all these penalties or he’s merely sharing his sentiments of frustration,” he went on.
Zubiri then suggested ARTA director-general Jeremiah Belgica to report their findings to the Office of the Executive Secretary so it would reach the President.
ARTA is an attached agency of the Office of the President.
“You should reach out now because if the President truly has mentioned his frustrations in the ease of doing business, that is a slap to our face. Not only to you but to me as the author of the law,” Zubiri said.
Belgica, during the hearing, reported that it only filed seven cases in court two years after the said law was passed.
He admitted having challenges with manpower since they only have four lawyers at their disposal.
“Ang pumapasok sa amin ay by the thousands pero hindi lahat sila nagiging cases kasi marami sa kanila ang nagre-respond po,” Belgica said when pressed by senators why there are only a few cases filed against erring government agencies.
(We receive thousands of complaints but not all of them become cases because many of them respond.)
Belgica said ARTA wants the authority to issue “preventive suspensions,” but Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said this power is only reserved for the Ombudsman and the President.
Zubiri then suggested ARTA seek the Senate’s help should they encounter a government agency refusing to cooperate.
“If an agency is giving you a hard time, we can ask the agency to explain themselves and move their budgets to a later date,” Zubiri said.
It was in May 2018 when Duterte signed the Ease of Doing Business Act to reduce processing times of business transactions in government agencies.
The law directed ARTA to implement the new law and to monitor the compliance of agencies. [kga]
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