THE WAY I SEE IT | Susan Amoroso
What’s in a name? A rose by any name smells as sweet as the saying goes. In the same breathe, a sewer by any name smells as bad. Pictures however speak a thousand words. But there is a government agency which forbids names and photos of government officials on public documents and on billboards.
Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) Director General Jeremiah Belgica has issued stern warning to government officials to
refrain from putting their names and photos in public documents like permits and licenses’’ as ifthe public owe them a favor for issuing these permits and licenses.’’
Belgica, being a pastor and a lawyer, could have been speaking from the vantage view of moral ethics. He said politicians have long since taken advantage of printing their names and photos on public documents and on public displays such as billboards and tarpaulins as a way of indirect advertising. This he said is done for their own personal advantage and carries no weight where the interests of the public are concerned, saying the adding of the names and photos is an added cost in printing and production.
The warning is not personal to the ARTA head but actually carries legal weight under the Anti-Epal provision or General Provision No. 82 of the adopted 2021 National Budget. Under the Anti-Epal provision, government officials, whether elected or appointed, are banned from self-promotion through placement of names, pictures, or otherwise on program projects, that are funded by the government through the General Appropriations Act.
“With the election season nearing, mahigpit po nating pinaalalahanan ang ating kapwa kawani ng gobyerno, na tigilan na ang paglalagay ng mukha nila at pangalan nila sa mga government funded projects including documents and issuances. Tayo po ay pinapasweldo ng taumbayan, hindi po nila utang na loob sa atin ang de-kalidad na serbisyo publiko. Don’t self-promote.’’ Belgica said in Pilipino.
Belgica also encourages private citizens to report anomalies, unnecessary delays and cases of corruption and extortion experienced in local and national government offices down to the barangay level. It seems that the Juans and Juanas in our country are not steeped in their rights and privileges to demand what is due them as citizens of this country. Belgica said the solution to lessen corruption and inefficiency in the government is for citizens and the public to work hand in hand with ARTA.
ARTA is mandated to monitor the compliance of agencies to R.A. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018, which includes checking the agencies’ Citizens Charters and other government collaterals such as permits, licenses and other issuances.
With this, ARTA continually conducts surprise inspections of government agencies to ensure that provided services are in line with the law. The ARTA czar is encouraging the public to take pictures and videos of any poor service from any government agency that is in violation of the law and the respective agency’s citizens’ charter. People may use #iARTAnaYan or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to report to ARTA.