MANILA, Philippines – Ordinary Filipinos will have a direct link to Malacañang Palace through a citizen hotline if new Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gets his way.
"Magtayo ako ng hotline. Ang number na hinihingi ko sa Smart pati Globe ay 8888. 'Pag may reklamo kayo, nandiyan 'yan sa Malacañang," Duterte told urban poor residents of Isla Puting Bato in Manila on Thursday night, June 30.
(I will put up a hotline. The number I am asking from Smart and Globe is 8888. If you have a complaint, it's there in Malacañang.)
The President headed straight to a "solidarity dinner" with the poor after his first Cabinet meeting in Malacañang. That morning, he had taken his oath as the country's new president.
"Kung kayo’y inabuso, kung kayo’y pinagsinamantalahan, kung may hindi kayo nagustuhan sa gobyerno, tumawag kayo, day and night at 'yung mga importanteng problema na nakikita ko, aksyunan ko kaagad," he said to a cheering audience.
(If you are abused, exploited, if there is something in government you do not like, call – day and night – and the important problems I see, I will address immediately.)
Duterte said he would take action by calling the mayor, police, or barangay captain of the concerned citizen.
But he asked the public not to make prank calls to his hotline.
"Just tell me the truth. Huwag kayo mag-imbento ng istorya....Huwag mong ubusin ang panahon ng gobyerno (Don't invent stories. Don't waste the government's time)," he said.
Directive to Cabinet
In his explanation to Cabinet members, the hotline center will be manned by 10 personnel overseen by a manager.
"l am setting up a complaint office, 24 hours, manned by 10 operators, covering the entire country. The number will be 8888. They can report to me any complaint and there will be a manager who will redirect the complaint to the proper office," he said.
Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler
This envisioned government call center is reminiscent of the world-class 911 Emergency Response Center he established in Davao City. (WATCH: A look at Davao City's Central 911)
The center, the first of its kind in Asia, takes in citizen calls on any concern, from reports of power outages to requests for medical assistance.
There is an existing office under the Office of the President (OP) which performs a similar function, the President Action Center (PACE). It can be reached through snail mail, e-mail, or landline.
"The Presidential Action Center (PACE), a front line desk in the Office of the President, serves as a liaison unit with various departments and agencies of the Government and private institutions/companies on all requests for assistance, and information, as well as complaints and grievances of the general public," the OP described the unit in its official website.
Duterte, in his years as mayor, is known to dislike bureaucracy, hence the hotlines and the enforcement of a 72-hour deadline for issuance of permits in Davao City government offices.
Duterte, in his inaugural speech, directed Cabinet members to streamline processes that take up the time of citizens. He has also previously said he would eliminate red tape in government agencies. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.