By Joe Zaldarriaga
Just before the New Year revelries, the Social Weather Stations released the results of its survey that showed 96 percent of Filipinos are entering 2024 “with hope”—the highest since the pandemic hit.
The wide scale and record-high optimism sets the stage for the country this year as the government moves towards achieving upper-middle income status.
Amplifying this optimism is President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s New Year message to the nation, where he vowed to slash bureaucratic red tape to steer the country towards further economic progress.
“We will continue to purge the government of rules that slow the delivery of public services because when projects get delayed, progress is denied to our people,” the President said.
“Ang New Year's resolution ng inyong pamahalaan ay ang puspusang pagsisikap upang maggawad ng mahusay at tapat na serbisyo na susi ng pagpapaganda ng buhay nating lahat (Your government’s New Year’s resolution is to work hard in providing honest and excellent service which is the key to a better life for all of us)," he added.
The President’s commitment to turn 2024 into a year of efficiency is a welcome development that adds to the wide scale optimism for the New Year given that one way or another, Filipinos have all encountered some sort of red tape when transacting with the government.
While notable progress has been made to address red tape—primarily through the Ease of Doing Business Law and the creation of the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA)—there is still much that can be done to improve government service delivery to Filipinos.
In 2024, the government must sustain its streamlining efforts, primarily through the digitalization of many processes and services at both the local and national levels.
Wide scale digitalization of government transactions, if properly implemented, will not only address efficiency issues but also provide additional convenience to the transacting public. After all, as the President said: “Service delayed is service denied.”
Reasonable flexibility, when observed by government agencies, can help ensure that services are efficiently delivered to the public, of course without sacrificing adherence to protocols. A welcome development in this regard is the recent announcement of ARTA on the launch of two new digital platforms—the Anti-Red Tape Electronic Management Information System (ARTEMIS) and Philippine Business Regulations Information System (PBRIS)—which aim to address overlapping and conflicting rules, requirements, and policies across the government. The digital platforms will also serve as an online database for Filipinos to check requirements for specific government transactions to do away with back-and-forth dealings.
Not many realize this, but government efficiency is a key pillar in achieving and sustaining further economic growth since it serves as a benchmark for the quality of service that our country has. A highly efficient government sends a positive signal to the world that the Philippines can get things done on time while bureaucratic red tape is simply discouraging for business.
Addressing government service efficiency roadblocks will play a big role in a multitude of factors that define our country’s progress—economic growth, delivery of social services, crisis response, and education system among others.
Of course, it goes without saying that the fight against red tape is a joint effort between the government and the people. If the government’s New Year’s resolution is to slash red tape, the public must also share in this by shunning away fixers and properly complying with established protocols.
New Year optimism is nothing new but the record-high positive sentiment this 2024 is a powerful tool in advocating programs that will help boost government efficiency which in turn will help improve the quality of service Filipinos receive.
For 2024, I sincerely wish to see a noteworthy improvement in Filipinos' overall quality of life from last year.
Happy New Year to all! May 2024 be a meaningful, productive, and prosperous year for the Philippines.
Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Presidential Communications Office.
About the Columnist
Joe Zaldarriaga is a veteran, award-winning communicator immersed in public service within and beyond the energy sector. He has more than 30 years of experience serving the country’s biggest electric distribution utility and is involved in a number of public service functions, as member of various committees on public safety, power supply security and electrification. Concurrently, he is a prominent figure in the Philippine communications industry, as Chairman and Past President of the US-based International Association of Business Communicators Philippines (IABC PH). He is also an awardee of the University of Manila’s Medallion of Honor (Dr. Mariano V. delos Santos Memorial) and a Scroll of Commendation, a testament to his celebrated years in public service exemplified by outstanding communications.
Joe also shares his opinion and outlook on relevant national and consumer issues as a columnist in several prominent publications and is now venturing into new media via hosting a new vlog called Cup of Joe. Previously, Joe was a reporter and desk editor of a Broadcasting Company and the former auditor of the Defense Press Corps of the Philippines. A true green Lasalian, he finished with a degree in Asian Studies specializing in the Japan Studies program at De La Salle University, Manila, where he also spent his entire education.