Office of the President heeds COA recommendations, begins reforms on 8888 complaint hotline

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 08 2020 05:03 PM

MANILA— The Office of the President has begun instituting reforms to improve services of government's 8888 Citizen’s Complaint Center that receives reports on corruption and red tape, the Commission on Audit said in a report that laid down its recommendations for the office. 

In their 2019 report on the OP, state auditors noted that the center reported a 269.44% accomplishment for 646,658 calls and referrals.

The report, however, pointed out that the figure did not include 792,685 calls abandoned in queue and those processed only in the “Interactive Voice Response,” which did not reach a live agent or call taker.

The commission also noted that while it would seem that the center is effective in helping eradicate corruption and red tape in government, other channels for public complaints must also be utilized, such as short message service or texting, email, social media or reporting via a website.

“Operationalization of these other four communication channels will give chance to people who want to report incidence of graft and corruption,” the audit team said.

The audit team said the OP has already heeded their recommendations.

“Management agreed to the recommendations and further states that the 8888 CCC has already started the partial operations of SMS text access service, after procuring the needed facilities and hiring manpower for the implementation of the same,” the audit team said.

The audit report, meanwhile, also noted that the center’s manual had no provisions to implement administrative sanctions on failures of agencies to act on complaints.

The center was instituted by Executive Order No. 6 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte after he assumed office in 2016.

Auditors noted that the manual states that agencies ignoring the EO may be penalized but that there are no provisions to implement sanctions.

“Since the manual has no standard as to what constitutes a concrete and specific action, the center could not compel concerned agencies to do certain acts as a resolution to a complaint,” the audit team said.

Auditors noted that the OP has agreed to re-evaluate the center’s manual and include a standard or criteria as to what constitutes concrete and specific action.

The OP also agreed to adopt mechanisms on how to ensure full cooperation of agencies and the imposition of administrative sanctions against erring agencies.

The audit report also included foreign travels of officials under the OP, which includes cabinet secretaries and other heads of national government agencies.

Auditors said that requests for travel were submitted less than the 10-day period before the scheduled departure date, which results in foreign travel without legal basis.

The OP, however, said that it communicates with different agencies the need to complete travel requirements and that it does not have control over requesting agencies.

“While we acknowledged that in such cases, the trips undertaken from these government officials/personnel are undeniably essential, officials and/personnel are required to secure travel authority which should be released before the scheduled date of departure,” the audit team said.

The audit report on the OP can be downloaded from the COA website this link

A copy of the report was also received by the office of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on September 28, 2020.