#KontraRedTape: Help government provide better service

Ana Vasquez
#KontraRedTape: Help government provide better service
Demanding more from government starts with a people's awareness of their rights

MANILA, Philippines – “It is always easier to be critical of the things we perceive wrong in the government. But have we really asked ourselves: what is our role in this system?”

This was the question posed by Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chairperson Alicia dela Rosa-Bala at the Anti-Red Tape (ARTA) Caravan, held last January 25-27, 2016 at Palma Hall at the University of the Philippines, Diliman.

The CSC created the caravan, dubbed “#KontraRedTape,” as an initiative to spread awareness of ARTA, or Republic Act 9485, which was enacted into law in 2007 to reduce long lines, slow processes, and discourteous employees in frontline government offices.

“Through the ARTA Caravan,” dela Rosa-Bala said, “citizens are given the chance to be part of the solution in the collective fight against red tape.”

Group effort

According to the most recent Report Card Survey – a measure of how government agencies rate against having red tape – nearly 99% of frontline government agencies nationwide passed the test.

Even with this accomplishment, Dela Rosa-Bala recognized that others would still disagree, and argue that they do not feel those changes.

But for her, the fight against red tape, graft and corruption is a collective one, where the government and citizens alike work for and with each other.

“By knowing your rights under the ARTA, you can hold the government agencies accountable because you know the quality of service you deserve to receive.” (READ: 10 right things to expect from government offices)

Through the forums and activities, the ARTA Caravan aims to make participants aware of their rights when availing services from government offices.

One stop shop

Different government offices also set up booth in the campus so that participants can avail, or at the least inquire, of the services of these agencies.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) gives away BIR forms to those who want to avail of their Taxpayer’s Identification Number (TIN), although participants would still need to process the forms in their respective BIR branch.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) entertains picture taking and biometrics in their booth, although one still needs to pre-register online. Booths like those from the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and PAG-IBIG Fund can process the identification card on the spot.

Other government offices like the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Social Security System (SSS), and the Civil Service Commission (CSC), sent appointed persons armed with informational brochures so participants could ask about their respective services.

How the youth can help

In the forum, a student asked the CSC head, “What should we do in case we come by a fixer in a government office? How do you #FixTheFixers?”

Dela Rosa-Bala encouraged citizens to call or text Contact Center ng Bayan hotline 1-6565 to report the case, encouraging everyone to join the advocacy for good governance by giving their government feedback.

The Contact Center ng Bayan receives the feedback, and then sends a letter refferal to the head of the agency regarding the issue.

The youth could also use social media so that others in ther circle of friends would be aware of the campaign #KontraRedTape. Students could always start with their own school to let others also be aware of their rights as citizens under the ARTA Law. 

Dela Rosa-Bala believes it is everyone’s right and responsibility to demand more from their government offices. (READ: ‘Good governance begins with us’)

The ARTA Caravan will head next to Leyte Normal University on February 2, 2016 and at Mindanao University of Science and Technology on February 9, 2016.

What are your thoughts on this? Tell us on X! – Rappler.com

Ana Vasquez is a Rappler intern. She graduated from De La Salle University with a degree in Psychology.

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