Anti-red tape agency reiterates no-noon break policy for public offices

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The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) has reiterated its call to government agencies to refrain from imposing cut-offs and quota system and to strictly observe the no-noon break policy in their transactions in compliance with Republic Act (RA) 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business.

Last Friday, ARTA conducted a surprise inspection at the Registry of Deeds (ROD) Manila after receiving reports on the 3 p.m. cut-off system being implemented by the agency despite its 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. official working hours.

ARTA was then able to confirm the agency’s said cut-off system after meeting applicants outside who arrived beyond 3 p.m. and were asked by the security guard to return the following week.

This constitutes a violation under Section 21(f) of RA 11032, specifically the “failure to attend to applicants or requesting parties who are within the premises of the office or agency concerned prior to the end of official working hours and during lunch break,” which is punishable by law. Violators may be suspended from office on the first offense and dismissed from service and imprisoned for up to six years on the second offense.

ARTA Director General Jeremiah Belgica pointed out the agency’s blatant violation of the RA 11032 provision to Registrar of Deeds (ROD) Manila Atty. Marisa Timones.

If needed to work overtime, do it, then let us make necessary adjustments. Otherwise, we will not be able to automate and hire additional people. What happening is the people adjust to the government. It should not happen,” Belgica told Timones in Filipino.

The ARTA inspection team also visited the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in Taguig following complaints on its quota system.

ARTA stressed anew that implementing cut-off and quota systems should not be the government’s resort to minimize physical contact in their offices during this health crisis.

As such, it is calling on ROD Manila, LTO Taguig, and all other government agencies to fast-track their automation efforts to accommodate the applications of the transacting public.

ARTA, on the other hand, will be providing the agencies with the needed assistance in their streamlining and automation initiatives.

Cut-off system is not the solution to the present health crisis. The answer is automation. The agencies have been doing this including virtual queueing, online appointments, and digital processing. I would like to reiterate what President Rodrigo Duterte said that physical queueing should be stopped,” Belgica said in Filipino in a news release on Monday.

ARTA has been conducting surprise inspections since last month and will continue to do so in the following days to monitor the compliance of national government agencies and local government units with the provisions of RA 11032.

In this regard, it is continuously encouraging the public to relay to its channels any inefficiencies observed of and experienced from government agencies using the hashtag #iARTAnaYan.

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