THE OFFICE of the Ombudsman on Tuesday called for the repeal of the Anti-Red Tape Act, which it said created an agency that undermines its authority and policies.
“I know Congress passed an anti-red tape law, I was quiet about it, I didn’t want to fight, but now I am asking for the repeal of the anti-red tape law that created ARTA (Anti-Red Tape Authority) because it has encroached on the powers of the Ombudsman to determine the causes of inefficiency and red tape in the government,” Ombudsman Samuel R. Martires said during the Senate Finance Committee’s budget hearing for their office.
Mr. Martires said they already have simple policies in place for local governments and department heads, giving them authority to discipline their own workforce.
Such procedures, he said, are designed to ensure no interference with the functions of other government agencies.
The Anti-Red Tape Act was passed in 2007 and strengthened in 2018 through Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act. These laws are intended to streamline government procedures and systems to improve the delivery of public services.
ARTA, an agency under the Office of the President, is tasked to issue and implement regulations against red tape and ensure ease of doing business. Its mandate includes monitoring compliance and filing cases against violators.
Mr. Martires admitted during the hearing that increasing their budget would not necessarily mean strengthening their fight against corruption, including among their ranks.
“In my view, the funds of the Ombudsman are sufficient but for the fight against corruption, this will really not be enough even if you gave us P100 billion,” he said.
“We cannot say that the agencies of the government are corrupt because we ourselves have an issue with corruption, we have employees who are corrupt. The problem is that we cannot find concrete evidence against them.”
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Martin “Koko” D. Pimentel III suggested that the Ombudsman’s office use their P51 million confidential fund to check their own people and solve internal issues.
The Ombudsman has a proposed P4.781 billion budget for 2023, same as this year’s allocation. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan