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Cablegate: Philippine Anti-Red Tape Act Signed

VZCZCXRO7646
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #2320 1910622
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 100622Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7335
INFO RUEHZS/ASEAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS MANILA 002320

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

STATE ALSO FOR EAP/MTS AND EAP/EP
STATE PASS USTR FOR BWEISEL AND DKATZ
USDOC FOR 4430/ITA/MAC/ASIA & PAC/KOREA & SE ASIA/ASEAN
STATE ALSO PASS USAID FOR AA/ANE, AA/EGAT, DAA/ANE
TREASURY FOR OASIA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EINV ECON ETRD PGOV RP
SUBJECT: Philippine Anti-Red Tape Act Signed

REF: 06 Manila 4878

1. Summary. On June 2 President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed the
Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007, a law that aims to reduce red tape in the
bureaucracy, hasten government transactions, and impose stiff
penalties for those engaged in graft and corrupt practices. Though
a step in the right direction, the effectiveness of this act will
depend on proper enforcement and implementation, both of which will
be difficult. End Summary.

2. President Macapagal-Arroyo has signed The Anti-Red Tape Act
(Republic Act 9485), which aims to reduce red tape in the
bureaucracy and accelerate government transactions, into law.
Stipulated in the Act are clear administrative guidelines and
procedures for accessing the services of government offices and
agencies, including local government units and government-owned and
controlled corporations. With this Act, all government agencies and
offices will have 10 working days to complete "complex"
transactions, and five working days to complete "simple"
transactions. The number of signatories of any official document
will be limited to five.

3. The Act distinguishes between "light" and "grave" offenses.
Light offenses include refusal to accept or failure to act on an
application within a prescribed period or failure to render service
within the prescribed period without due cause. Grave offenses
include fixing and/or collusion with fixers for economic and/or
other gain. A government official found guilty of a light offense
would receive a 30-day suspension without pay and mandatory
attendance in a values orientation program for a first offense, a
three month suspension without pay for a second offense, and for a
third offense, dismissal and permanent disqualification from public
office. Those guilty of grave offenses face immediate dismissal and
disqualification from holding public office in the future. The law
also provides immunity to whistleblowers to encourage them to expose
corruption in the bureaucracy.

4. Comment: Though this legislation was not the result of the
GRP's Competitiveness Initiative (reftel), it dovetails nicely with
many of the objectives of that initiative. Implementation will be a
challenge, as backlogs in processing are the norm in GRP agencies
and no new resources are being provided. Further, resistance by
officials who have previously benefited by the "pay or delay" system
can be counted on to resist implementation. Previous efforts by the
GRP to simplify government processes have failed to produce tangible
results. Interested readers can follow our reporting on this and
other aspects of the Competitiveness Initiative on the Intellipedia
at http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/
Philippine_Competitiveness_Initiative. End Comment.

KENNEY

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