MANILA (UPDATE) — Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) Director General Jeremiah Belgica and 3 other officials on Monday filed a motion for reconsideration on their preventive suspension, which is meant to give way to an Office of the Ombudsman investigation on a decision involving 2 telco firms.
The ARTA officials are facing investigation for grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service after DITO Telecommunity Chief Administrative Officer Adel Tamano accused them of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
This stemmed from ARTA's recommendation in March 2021 to the National Telecommunications Commission for the approval of the assignment of frequencies to Now Telecom Co. Inc., even though these frequencies were supposedly already assigned to DITO as the country's third telco player.
“Una po sa lahat, gusto naming sabihin sa lahat na hindi po kami korap. Ginagawa lang po namin ang aming trabaho,” Belgica said.
(First of all, we want to tell everyone that we are not corrupt. We are just doing our job.)
Belgica noted that under the Ease of Doing Business Act, all applications or requests filed before any government office, along with complete requirements and fees, should be automatically approved if there was no action within the prescribed processing time.
Belgica, ARTA Deputy Director General Eduardo Bringas, Division Chief Sheryl Pura-Sumagui, and Director Melamy Salvadora-Asperin also filed their counter-affidavits on the ongoing Ombudsman inquiry.
The Ombudsman earlier noted that Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has set aside the order of automatic approval that ARTA had issued.
“The evidence on record shows that the guilt of respondents Jeremiah B. Belgica, Eduardo V. Bringas, Sheryl Pura Sumagui, Jedrek C. Ng and Melamy A. Salvadora-Asperin is strong and the charges against them involve grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service which may warrant removal from the service,” the Ombudsmdan said.
Belgica, meanwhile, told the Ombudsman: "Nagpapasalamat ho kami sa pagkakataon na makapagbigay ng sagot namin at harinawa makatulong ang aming sagot na mas maipaliwanag ang trabaho ng ARTA."
(We are thankful for the chance for us to respond and we hope that our answer will help explain the job of ARTA.)
He also urged incoming lawmakers to further strengthen the Ease of Doing Business Act and settle any doubts on its provisions.
“Sa mga kasamahan sa gobyerno, ang automatic approval provision ng batas ay dapat po nating ipatupad dahil hindi na po pwede ang mga aplikasyon na natutulog sa ating mga lamesa,” Belgica said.
(To our colleagues in the government, we should enforce the automatic approval provision of the law because applications should not sleep on our desks.)