Senate OKs bill on speedy licenses, permits
With 23 affirmative votes, no negative vote and no abstention, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Senate Bill 1844 or “An Act Authorizing the President to Expedite the Processing and Issuance of National and Local Permits, Licenses and Certifications” has been passed.
STAR/Geremy Pintolo, file
Senate OKs bill on speedy licenses, permits
Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) - October 15, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate yesterday approved on third and final reading the bill granting President Duterte the power to expedite the processing and issuance of permits and licenses during national emergencies, which would cut red tape and corruption in the bureaucracy.

With 23 affirmative votes, no negative vote and no abstention, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Senate Bill 1844 or “An Act Authorizing the President to Expedite the Processing and Issuance of National and Local Permits, Licenses and Certifications” has been passed.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri informed Sotto that the Senate received SB 1844’s certification as urgent from President Duterte.

“Pursuant to the provisions of Article 6, Section 26 sub-paragraph 2 of the 1987 Constitution, I hereby certify to the necessity of the immediate enactment of Senate Bill 1844,” Duterte said in a one-page letter dated Oct. 14.

The President said the measure would facilitate economic activity, accelerate the socio-economic recovery of the country and ensure the prompt delivery of public services in times of national emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The measure was in response to Duterte’s appeal for legislation to further address red tape and corruption in the government as he had expressed frustration over the rampant corruption in government.

“This is a victory for all of us. And hopefully, the executive department will start reviewing now the processes involved in certifications, licenses and permits… We hope that with this measure, the President will be able to cut the times even shorter,” said Zubiri, who authored the Ease of Doing Business Act.

SB 1844, which was authored by Sotto, Zubiri, Sens. Ralph Recto, Frank Drilon and Panfilo Lacson, seeks to authorize the President, during the time of national emergency, to suspend the requirements for national and local permits, licenses and certifications, and to streamline and expedite the process for the issuance of the same. Other senators indicated intention to be co-authors of the measure.

“While this may be a small step, it surely can create a significant impact on all enterprises. Likewise, this move could ease the already heavy burden of the businesses that were heavily hit and continuously being beaten by the gargantuan effects of the pandemic,” the senators said in a joint statement.

“This measure could be one of the needed breathers of crumbling enterprises. And ultimately, this will redound to the benefit of our economy and encourage investors to capitalize in the country,” they added.

In the World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business Report, the Philippines jumped 29 notches, ranking 95th from 124th last year. The Philippines got an Ease of Doing Business score of 62.8 in the 2020 report – an improvement over its grade in the previous year of 57.68.

Based on the report, the Philippines improved in three areas: starting a business, dealing with construction permits and protecting minority investors.

Although it was a big leap from the previous year’s figures, the Philippines is still last in the ranking among founding members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

“Uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, although lessened, still exist. Measures to cushion its effect on our people and our economy have already been made. However, there is still a lot to be accomplished in order to rebuild the economy and defeat COVID-19 altogether,” the senators said as they called for the passage of the bill.

Duterte expressed hope that by simplifying processes and cutting red tape in the executive branch, the government will be able to facilitate the country’s economic activity and accelerate socioeconomic recovery for the betterment of Filipinos, according to the Palace spokesman.

SB 1844 covers all agencies of the executive department, including departments, bureaus, offices, commissions, boards, councils, government instrumentalities as well as government-owned and controlled corporations.

Under the measure, the President will have the authority to accelerate and streamline regulatory processes and procedures for new and pending applications for permits, licenses, clearances, certifications or authorizations, including fixing or shortening the periods provided for under existing laws, regulations, issuances and ordinances; and suspend or waive the requirements in securing such permits, licenses, clearances, certifications or authorizations.

“I wish to thank President Duterte for certifying as urgent (SB 1844),” Sen. Bong Go said, viewing the move as an effort to cut red tape and corruption.

“We need to pass it immediately to help the economy recover and speed up public service delivery, especially during national emergencies, such as the crisis caused by COVID-19,” Go added. – Christina Mendez

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