Paving the Way: RI District 3810 becomes the First ARTA Champion District

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LCP Nikki Esperanza
RC Ermita Manila

Red tape is universally regarded as a problem that must be defeated. In fact, the concept appears to be fundamentally based on the belief that it negatively impacts governmental performance, yet Filipinos have come to the term that red tape is anywhere and everywhere and has become ingrained in our culture. For many years, an average person just remained passive and accepted this sad reality of living in this country, and for this reason, Filipinos are trying to emulate other countries because of their efficient service, notably the economic powerhouse. 

While government transaction is unavoidable in the business sector, most entrepreneurs find dealing with government agencies discouraging due to bureaucratic red tape, corruption, and slow service delivery. 

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In response to this widespread sentiment, Republic Act No. 9485, also known as the Anti-Red Tape Act, was passed to improve efficiency in delivering government services to the public by preventing graft and corruption and reducing bureaucratic tape. The law aims to promote transparency in each agency’s dealings with the public, including a program for the adoption of simplified procedures that will reduce red tape and speed up transactions in government. However, since its enactment, this has not significantly altered the business scene. The wait time was still excessive, and procedures were ludicrously difficult.

To answer the clamors by the entrepreneurs, Republic Act No. 11032, or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018 (RA 11032), amends the ARTA by strengthening it and endowing it with teeth. Many business owners welcomed this new regulation in the anticipation that it would result in a  change in corporate practices.

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At present, due to restricted movement and the adoption of a skeleton force among government officials, this pandemic has incredibly increased the time required to issue business permits. Delivering prompt and effective service is critical to reviving the economy, particularly during these challenging times for the country’s economy.

Private stakeholders play a crucial role in nation building. One of the main thrusts of ARTA is empowering private organizations like the Rotary International in aiding the ARTA to that the business permits and procedures in the government agencies are seamless and uncomplicated. Becoming an ARTA Champion will tremendously help fellow Rotarians as many of them are engaged in different lines of businesses. Only through effective delivery of service will allow Rotarian-entrepreneurs expand their enterprise and in return, will be able to give more to society by donating and implementing projects that will benefit the public.

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Lead by Rotary Club of Ermita Manila, Rotary International District 3810 represented by its hardworking Governor Robert G. Koa, heeded  the call and became the country’s first Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) Champion district. RID3810’s critical role as an ARTA Champion will complement the Anti-Red Tape Authority, led by Secretary Jeremiah Belgica, in monitoring and curbing red tape across government agencies and private businesses.

In a  meeting with ARTA before signing the Memorandum of Agreement, Secretary Belgica hoped this would eventually lead to ARTA’s partnership with the whole Rotary group in the Philippines.

“With ten districts, Rotary Club can truly assist us in capturing complaints in many areas of the country, especially given that there are people who wish to lodge their complaints in the provinces, particularly in Visayas and Mindanao,” he said during their separate meeting. 

“We only have eight regional offices, and this collaboration will undoubtedly augment our anti-red tape efforts,” Belgica concluded.

On September 10, 2021, the historic signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) via online between Secretary Jeremiah Belgica, ARTA Director General, and Rotary International District 3810 Governor Robert Koa formalized their collaboration. The said ceremonial signing was witnessed by  district officers and several life changing presidents and  streamed lived in different media outlets such as the ARTA Facebook Live and Radio TV Malacanang. 

Belgica made the announcement a day after signing an MOU with Life Changing President Nikki Rose Esperanza of the Rotary Club of Ermita, Manila — which is part of Rotary Club District 3810 — in which she pledged to serving as an ARTA Champion.

As an ARTA Champion, RID3810 is empowered and allowed to hear complaints from the private sector, particularly entrepreneurs, on alleged violations of Republic Act No. 11032 and offer procedures that will assist an agency in eliminating red tape. By becoming an ARTA Champion, RCEM will be able to assist fellow Rotarian entrepreneurs and individuals who are experiencing difficulties in their businesses due to the perennial problem of red tape.

During the MOU signing, Belgica explained that the participation and assistance of RID3810 will also enable ARTA to reach out to more Filipinos, to more people in business, to more professionals who are being victimized by red tape, while also continuing to innovate ways to provide efficient government services and improve the ease of doing business in the country. 

“We have high hopes that we will usher into a new beginning of our country of eradicating the old, outdated way of doing business, releasing the Filipinos from the long-standing bureaucracy and red tape that it has suffered for so long,” Belgica added. 

The Anti-Red Tape Secretary again credited the Rotary for his learnings and experiences that he was able to use when he was appointed as the first-ever director general of the Authority. Belgica served as president of the Rotary Club of Ermita, Manila in the Rotary year 2014 to 2015.

Governor Koa, in turn thanked the Authority for “trusting” the Rotary International District 3810 with the “noble task” of being one of its reform partners. 

“As governor of Rotary International District 3810, I can assure you that we are one with the Anti-Red Tape Authority’s vision of creating a Philippine government that is clean, just, highly effective, technology-enabled, and people-centered,” he said. 

“I would like to believe that Rotarians are the right agent to fight red tape in our government institution. Yet, I would still like to hope that this partnership will nurture and cultivate more fair and just Rotarians who will forward the cause of the Anti-Red Tape Authority,” he added.