ARTICLE 3 of the Constitution of the Philippines contains our Bill of Rights. This is perhaps the most important list that contains its protection against any government abuse. The very first part of Section 1 states: “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process…” This part simply echoes what all free nations call the inalienable rights of man. These rights are neither granted nor could be taken away by any government or institution, simply because they are considered sacred and given by God. In fact, the protection of the inalienable rights to life, liberty and property is one of the most compelling reasons and bases for the creation of a civil government. This connection between the protection of inalienable rights and the creation of government by the people is eloquently stated by Thomas Jefferson in the United States Declaration of Independence, to quote:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness – That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
What happens, however, when the very institution that was created to protect the inalienable rights of the people becomes the very institution that threatens and encumbers them? The result would be catastrophic and tragic. The history of the world never lacks examples that show the oppression by the government or its institutions of the people’s rights to life, liberty and property, which has led to their revolt against the power in place. . Prime examples are the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and our own Philippine Revolution, to name a few.
But there is a more subtle way of abusing these inalienable rights through governmental instruments. This requires red tape or excessive bureaucratic regulations and processes. Red tape is defined by Republic Act (RA) 11032 or the “Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Delivery of Government Services Act of 2018” as “any regulation, rule or procedure or administrative system that is inefficient or detrimental to achievement of intended goals and, as a result, produces slow, suboptimal and undesirable social outcomes.”
Ultimately, bureaucracy breeds more opportunities for redress and corruption escalates within the bureaucratic system, leading to more bureaucratic problems. This could result in people being deprived of the productive use of their time (life and freedom) and resources (property).
This is why we at the Anti-Bureaucracy Authority continue to push for reforms within government agencies and institutions that would allow them to assess proposed and existing regulations and processes to determine if they cause an unnecessary bureaucratic burden on the people.
We also filed 564 cases in February 2022 for violations of RA 11032. Of this number, most involve the inability of government offices to process applications within the prescribed processing times. Over 50 traps were also set by various government agencies against fixation activities which resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of offenders.
It is important to state, however, that ARTA’s most important work is to help government agencies assess, streamline and re-engineer their processes. The long-term goal of the authority is to continue to push the country towards the maturity of its regulatory management system, the system by which we could effectively manage our regulations on a micro and macro scale. Since the implementation of RA 11032 by ARTA, we have seen the development of many tools that must now be used by all government offices, both national and local governments. We now have the Regulatory Impact Assessment Handbook that we launched last year that government offices should use to assess their regulations before they are released to ensure the best regulatory outcome. Apart from these, we have also launched the Philippine Good Regulatory Principles (PGRP), a set of 10 principles on how to promote fair, consistent, accountable and targeted regulations through effective dialogue between regulators and entities. regulated, and the whole of government. Reengineering Handbook, provides a step-by-step guide to process reengineering that can support reforms and streamlining efforts in government processes that are consistent with the Whole of Government (WOG) approach to delivering effective services to its clients.
In short, I have always believed that our work within ARTA is a work of justice for the people. When you take people’s time and bury their resources and businesses through excessive bureaucracy, it is tantamount to violating their inalienable rights to life, liberty and property. By continually pushing the government to streamline and revamp processes through the already available tools and materials we have created (RIA, PGRP and WOG), we in government would be doing exactly what we were supposed to do, which is to protect the people life, liberty and property.