Heeding President Duterte’s call, Senate President Vicente Sotto III committed on Saturday that they will prioritize legislation to further streamline government processes.

sotto 2 - Sotto vows to prioritize legislation to streamline gov’t processes
Sen. Vicente Sotto III (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Sotto, in a radio interview, said Duterte wanted to amend current anti-red tape laws to further ease transactions specifically for foreign investors.

“Ang gusto niya ang anti-red tape law na ngayon ay Ease of Doing Business, gusto niya higpitan pa. Hindi higpitan, kundi luwagan para sa investors ang pagkuha ng permit (He wanted the anti-red tape law, now the Ease of Doing Business law, to be stricter. Not to restrain, but to ease for investors the transactions for getting permits),” Sotto told radio DWIZ when asked about his closed-door meeting with Duterte and other Congress leaders Wednesday.

“May nakapagsabi sa kanya na may mga investors na gustong pumasok sa ‘Pinas. Ang target either Vietnam, Thailand, o Philippines (He was informed that investors were eyeing to enter Philippines. That they were targeting Vietnam, Thailand, or Philippines).”

Sotto said Duterte made the pitch in his bid to help the country recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The President was “worried” that investors would be discouraged from engaging the country due to bureaucracy and corruption, he said.

“Kasi nakarating na sa kanya noong mga nakaraan na nawawalan ng gana ‘yong ibang investor kasi…ang daming kuskos-balungos, kumpleto ka na, mayroon pang hinahanap na iba…Mismong sa mga negosyong alam ko ganyan ang nangyayari, ang daming nagsusumbong (Because he learned that some investors have been discouraged with the unnecessary processes, with the delays despite completing their requirements. Even the businesses I know of were complaining about it),” he said.

“Gusto niya kung three days ang hinihingan na permit, ‘pag ‘di binigay ng opisina, in three days, deem approved (He said that should offices fail to act on the permit application, if the prescribed period is three days, then the application is deemed approved).”

Sotto said most of Duterte’s requests were already contained in the Ease of Doing Business Act. He said Senate Minority Franklin Drilon instead proposed to grant the President the authority to “make changes to the system itself” during emergencies, so that they would no longer need to amend the law.

He said this was supported by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, and Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, who earlier said that the existing law, which he authored and sponsored, is enough to curb red tape in government.

“It’s like an anti-red tape emergency powers during the duration of the state of emergency, to allow the President to shorten the prescribed time for government transactions for licenses and permit as well allowing, during this time, to waive the requirements needed to secure these licenses and permits. With theses powers he can cut short the processes and even cut the requirements needed,” Zubiri confirmed in a text message following Sotto’s interview.

“A blanket authority as you may say across national government agencies and LGUs (local government units),” he added.

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