With the persistent spread of the coronavirus all over the world, it is crucial in the business sector to provide for means and procedures so that businesses can continue to operate amidst the pandemic. These measures and procedures will not only help achieve unhampered processes and operations but will also afford an efficient way to deliver services to the public while minimizing health risks.  

Since we are currently functioning in unprecedented times and there is no clear answer as to when this pandemic will end, it is imperative to highlight the government’s efforts toward minimizing the disruption of government processes.

To further operationalize and carry out the provisions of RA 11032, the ARTA issued Memorandum Circular No. 2020-06 (“Memorandum Circular”) on 27 August 2020 entitled “Guidelines on the Issuance and/or Reinstitution of Permits and Licenses under the ‘New Normal’”. This Memorandum Circular aims to provide simplified, streamlined, and automated standards, measures, and procedures by all covered government agencies in delivering services under the “New Normal”.

These sets of norms and standards to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 will operate even after the development of a vaccine and shall apply to all Government Agencies that provide services related to RA 11032 and to LGUs.

As mentioned, among the objectives of the Memorandum Circular is to streamline and simplify the processes; hence, the mandate to Government Agencies to do the following:

  • Remove unnecessary requirements, processes, and procedures for the issuance of licenses, clearances, permits, certifications, and authorizations;
  • Not require information from applicants that can be sourced from offices within the same agency; and
  • Adopt alternative procedures for verification of information sourced from other government offices, agencies, and departments and not require notarization of documents unless required by law to be notarized.

The Memorandum Circular also provides for the electronic submission and acceptance of applications and requests and in line with this direct Government Agencies to

  • Set up an online processing system for accepting applications in line with the adoption of electronic versions of licenses, clearance, permits, certifications, or authorizations;
  • Accept electronic copies of documentary requirements, including photographs, unless a hard copy is required by law; and
  • In the absence of a fully-functioning online portal, accept applications via their official email or a designated email address.

Digital and electronic processes will not be holistic without provision for digital payments for licenses, permits, and other fees. Government Agencies shall

  • Set up a payment gateway to accept digital payments; acknowledge the electronic receipt issued by the digital payment gateway as proof of payment;
  • Place in the home page of their website a hyperlink and/or a Quick Response (QR) Code to their digital payment platforms; and
  • Upon confirmation of the validity of the electronic payment, issue an electronic official receipt (eOR) or a scanned version of the written official receipt, transmitted electronically to the payee.

Finally, with regard to the conduct of interactions, Government Agencies shall

  • Post the status of applications on their respective websites, or designate an email address that shall respond to such inquiry, but may assign a hotline to address the concerns;
  • Remove requirements for meetings or interviews with applicant, unless strictly necessary for a complex or highly technical application;
  • In case, a meeting or interview is mandatory, strictly observe contactless interactions;
  • Conduct inspections, with proper risk assessment, prioritized only for applications that pose a high risk to the public;
  • For low risk applications, may require a self-declaration from the applicant, in lieu of an inspection;
  • Adopt appropriate alternative modes of inspection such as remote inspection; and
  • Whenever possible, adopt a one-time joint inspection.

Written by : Atty. Sheena Dioneda, CPA

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