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Baguio, as a ‘high–tech’ city, vies for efficient, fast services
by Jessa Mardy Samidan

As Baguio turns 110 years old this Sept.1, the city government has bankrolled into speedy and efficient government transaction as the first step of improving the local government unit’s delivery of public service to its more than 400,000 constituents and countless visitors as well.

Policies, systems, and procedures on government tran-sactions are being reviewed and polished to catch up with the changes and demands of the populace with the goal of making Baguio City as “high-tech” as the other cities in the country, particularly on the acquisition of vital government clearances and permits.

 



At the start of his administration on July 1, Mayor Benjamin Magalong presented his 10-point core agenda, which later became the 15 development goals of the city government after these were adopted in the recent out-of-town executive-legislative agenda meeting. First among the 15 development goals of the city is speeding up government action by making services accessible, available, and affordable to the people.

“We must do away with policies that make our people wait in long lines just to be served, or told to return in vain for follow-up. We must make our constituents feel and experience government service at its finest,” Magalong said.

Under Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Act of 2018, the government sector shall follow the national and standard deadline for government transactions, the put up of business one-stop shop, an electronic or automated system for processing business permits, observance of the zero-contact policy, and a central business portal and Philippine Business Databank are among the requirements.

In Baguio City, compliance to the ease of doing business started as early as 2010 when the Business One-Stop Shop building was put up, followed by the launching of the Electronic Business Permit and Licensing System (EBPLS) in 2014. Schemes were also developed over the years to lessen bureaucratic processes particularly business permit application.

In August, the city government launched its “Bilis Serbis-yo Baguio” campaign, which aimed at informing the public on the processes of government transactions following simplified procedures. Using infographics as a guide in government transaction, the city encourages the public to prepare the needed documents before heading to City Hall for their transactions. This way, the amount of time spent going back and forth in offices to acquire needed documents will be better managed by the person.

Under the newly-adopted set up of business permit processing, applicants can get their permit in less than an hour, provided that all pre-requisites have been acquired and clearance have been issued by the concerned offices prior to input of data into the EBPLS.

Ofelia C. Empian



This means that even before President Rodrigo Duterte, in his State of the National Address in July, ordered all mayors nationwide to cut the processing period of business permits to just three days, the city government is already headed towards that direction.

City Administrator Bonifacio dela Peña, co-chairperson and action officer of the monitoring team for the Ease of Doing Business in Baguio, explained that if the concerned offices will not act on the request for online validation of the clearances within one hour, the business permit application will be deemed approved. The same will be printed upon payment and subsequently released to the applicant.

Also an important aspect of Ease of Doing Business is the online payment system for real property and business taxes similar to Valenzuela City where online and credit card payments has been in place since 2013.

At present, the City Treasurer’s Office accepts payment of business and real property taxes through the bank account of the city government. But the payee has to submit or email a copy of the deposit slip to the City Treasury.

To lessen human contact at the City Assessor’s Office, assessments are sent via email upon request.

On the issuance of building permits, the City Buildings and Architecture Office has been mandated to issue applications for simple building permits for structures below three stories in seven days; medium complex building permits for structures up to eight stories but less than 10,000 square meters floor area in 22 days; and complex building permits for structures having over 10,000 square meters in 32 days inclusive of the signing of the permits by the city building official.

Dela Peña said there will be personnel of the CBAO who will first evaluate the application for issuance of building permits and if the applications will be returned to the applicant for lack of requirements, the counting of the number of days will not start until such time that all the requirements are completed.

An important component of the Ease of Doing Business is the improvement of the city government’s Internet connectivity since frontline services, such as the business permit processing, is dependent on this unseen sort of link in the worldwide web. If Internet service is not available at City Hall due to unforeseen circumstances, business permit processing will have to wait, including the issuance of vital information to the public who rely on social media and emails to have their inquiries answered.

Foremost, the city needs to improve its website to serve as the official data source particularly for frontline services. This would lessen the number of clients that go to City Hall just to inquire on simple transactions such as clearances or steps in acquiring permits.

Even ordinances and resolutions have to be accessible via the official website of the city for public access and reference. On the part of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, it has recently launched its social media page serving as the direct line where the public can express their opinions on proposed legislations. This way, transparency in governance and community involvement is enhanced.

But while online-based governance may be the dream of every organization as a means of fast service, there is always the human factor. Uploading too much personal data and document to the web increases the risk of compromised cyber security including impersonation and illegal or misuse of confidential information, among others. The risk is especially high in the third world country like the Philippines where Internet service is too slow that a lot of the population depends on free Wi-Fi connectivity increasing cyber security attack all the more.

To ensure compliance on the Ease of Doing Business, Magalong has issued Executive Order 51-2019 creating a monitoring team for this purpose. The mayor is head of the monitoring team with dela Peña as the action officer while several department heads are the composite members.

The team shall determine and recommend the methods/strategies for the 100 percent implementation of the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act in Baguio. The team will also review existing systems, procedures and process flow of frontline services to improve and decrease waiting time and prevent graft and corruption.

An on-the-spot monitoring of all the departments and offices of the city government will also be conducted to ensure posting of the Citizen’s Charter, Anti-Fixer Campaign/Contact Center ng Bayan, No Noon Break Policy, wearing of IDs among employees, and the presence of public assistance and complaints desks as well as designated priority lane for senior citizens, pregnant women and persons with disability. All of these postings have already been complied with.

SPEEDING UP GOVERNMENT SERVICES -- Baguio officials led by Mayor Benjamin Magalong have vowed to faster and efficient government services when they took their oath of office at City Hall in June. -- Harley Palangchao



While officials acknowledge that there is still much work to be done to fully speed up transactions at City Hall, immediate resolutions are being implemented to improve promptness of government service.

But of course, we are all humans. A little consideration and patience would be enough while your public servants are looking into solutions. Let us move forward, one step at a time.
Other news
:: Making Baguio a healthy happy urbanized city
:: Baguio traffic situation, updates, and suggestion
:: Giving premium to the youth as partners for a better Baguio
:: Baguio – the origin of a geographical name
:: Baguio: Where every piece of land is valuable
:: Chasing Baguio’ dream as ‘Safe and Smart City’
:: Looking forward to a sustainable & responsible tourism for Baguio
:: A dream Baguio public market in the making
:: Realizing initiatives for Baguio City’s grand rehabilitation
:: The need to innovate towards a disaster – resilient Baguio
:: Sustaining Baguio City as educational capital of the north
:: Local governance in the time of social media
:: Baguio to recognize four outstanding citizens for 2019

Philippine National Police – Police Regional Office – CAR
R.A Gapuz Review Center

Baguio Central University
Baguio Country Club
Benguet Electric Cooperative Inc.
Congressman Mark Go
Data Center of the Philippines of Baguio City, Inc.
Department of Health – CAR
Kings’ College of the Philippines
Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong
Pines City Colleges
Sangguniang Panlungsod
SiTEL
SM City Baguio
Social Security System
Veterans Bank

Albergo Hotel and Residences
Baguio Center Mall
Baguio Water District
C & Triple A Supermart
Congressman Nestor B. Fongwan
Curamed Pharmacy
Department of Agriculture – CAR
Department of Environment and Natural Resources – CAR
Ganza & Solibao Restaurants
GMS Technology
Governor Melchor D. Diclas
John Hay Management Corporation
Mayor Romeo K. Salda
MMS Development Training Center Corporatino
Mother Earth Deli Basket
Philipppine Science High School
Regional Development Council – CAR
Sutherland

 



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