ARTA to reach out to Ombudsman after call to abolish agency: lawmaker

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 20 2022 09:21 PM

MANILA — The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) will reach out to the Office of the Ombudsman following the latter's call on Congress to repeal the law creating it, a lawmaker said.

"The Anti-Red Tape Authority is reaching out to the Office of the Ombudsman to seek clarification on the agency’s investigative function to ensure that it is aligned with the jurisdiction of the Office of the Ombudsman," AKO BICOL party-list Rep. Raul Angelo Bongalon said.

During the plenary debates on ARTA's proposed 2023 budget, Bongalon asserted the agency's relevance.

"The Anti-Red Tape Authority is still relevant in all government processes. In fact, the ARTA, the Anti Red Tape Authority, is identified as one of the committee members of the proposed committee on national government rightsizing," said Bongalon, ARTA's budget sponsor in the House of Representatives.

"It is one of the top priority bills of the Marcos administration, proposed by no less than Pres. Marcos during his first State of the Nation Address."

Ombudsman Samuel Martires last week disclosed to the House Justice committee his 2-pronged legislative agenda: abolish the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) and amend the new Sandiganbayan law.

“The Office of the Ombudsman would appreciate if Congress can amend or repeal the ARTA law, which is an unconstitutional law, as it usurps or encroaches upon the powers of the Ombudsman, pursuant to section 13(7), Article XI of the Constitution,” Martires had said via Zoom.

During the debate, APEC party-list Rep. Sergio Dagooc asked about ARTA's actions on alleged delays in business-related processes at the Energy Regulatory Commission and the Department of Energy.

Bongalon admitted ARTA has yet to issue a show-cause order, but it committed to look into the said concern.

ARTA's records show that as of August, the agency conducted 21 entrapment operations against fixers and apprehended 28 individuals. 

Around 74 cases were filed, with three convictions.

The agency’s public assistance also received more than 11,200 complaints and concerns, of which, 94 percent were resolved, according to Bongalon.

The House of Representatives terminated on Monday the period of sponsorship and debate on the proposed P279.29-million budget for ARTA next year. 

This figure is 4.5 percent lower than the agency's budget for 2022.

Bongalon explained that the funding cut is due to the zero allocation for capital outlay and a reduction in maintenance and other operating expenses next year.  

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