BUREAUCRATIC red tape in most, if not all, government offices remains a chronic problem confronting Filipinos. A good citizen transacts business with government, pays taxes, seeks business or other kinds of permits, clearances, applies for land titles or anything for whatever official need or reasons. Anyway, who can ever escape having to transact business with local government units or national offices?
Applicants wait for days, weeks, months or longer; made to go from one desk to the other; the documents required, instead of being fully listed, are demanded in batches or on installment. It’s typical for government office personnel to freeze the processing, or dilly-dally in deciding on the application.
Well, we’ve got information how complaints filed with the Office of the Ombudsman takes time to resolve too, although some are acted with expediency. Why they are not consistent, we don’t know.
Well, the creation of Anti-Red Tape Authority (RA 11032) in 2018 should be God’s blessing, with its mandate to ensure no red tape and promote ease of doing business with government.
Luckily, last Thursday, September 14, 2023, at the Rotary Club of Manila’s regular meeting held at Manila Polo Club in Makati City, we had an opportunity to hear from ARTA Director General Ernesto V. Perez what they are doing and the steps, the measures they are undertaking to minimize red tape that is prevalent in most government offices.
It was reassuring to hear directly from Director General Perez himself. And we mentioned ARTA because Boholanos’ quest for a steady supply of potable water is at risk. The fact is that the water rights application filed by Bohol-based Richli Corp. has been pending with the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) for a couple of years.
Many concerned individuals, notably Mr. Willy Ramasola, a Boholano journo and blogger, Mr. Gregorio Madanguit IV, among many others, are so worried, which led them to unite under the group Bohol Clean Water Alliance (BCWA). Now, this group is at the forefront, advocating the expeditious resolution of this life-threatening issue.
It is sad to note that due to the pendency, Madanguit IV, along with two others, filed on August 9, 2023 a complaint against several high officials of the DENR and NWRB before the Ombudsman, for alleged violation of the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act arising, in part, on the water rights application permit pending for a source located in Lourdes, Cortes, Bohol.
We don’t want to discuss the merits of the complaint due to the rule on subjudice. We opted to check the applicant’s documents, which show that all permits and fees required have been submitted or complied well. That’s aside from the fact that Richli Corp. has a good track record as utility provider for over a decade. Lately, they even invested another P100 million in Trinidad, Bohol water supply project. With that, we wonder what reason there is in the delay of either extending or approving the water rights permit application of the said water utility entity in sourcing water from Uhan Spring in Cortes, Bohol.
Presently, Richli Corp. is the only water supplier to Tagbilaran City, Dauis, Baclayon, Cortes and Trinidad as well as the Panglao International Airport and almost all the resorts and hotels in the famous tourist area. Now, the operation of the new P9 billion Cortes Hospital is in jeopardy, scary at that, since it has no source for its water requirement.
Well, we really understand the anxiety of Boholanos. Like all Filipinos, they all deserve to have clean and steady potable water supply. So we pleaded with the ARTA official to act and call the attention of NWRB/DENR to resolve the issue and grant the water permit applied for with urgency.
All the provincial and local officials are called upon too, to unite, support and set aside, if there be any, the politics that hinder the granting of water rights to Richli Corp. for the greater interests of Boholanos. Remember that all of you took an oath to serve the people.
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