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No-contact policy adopted by local government in the Philippines

The onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic has far-reaching implications in both the private and public sectors. Many economies are re-shaping their operations to adhere to safety protocols and restrictions present during the new normal. 

In the Philippines, local government units (LGUs) continue to build on reforms that were earlier introduced by the national government not just to abide by restrictions during the pandemic but also to provide an overall conducive climate for business and government transactions. One of these reforms is in keeping with the Ease of Doing Business measure signed into law to ensure faster, more convenient dealings in government. 

To adhere to this initiative, the local government of Cagayan De Oro (CDO) City announced that it is adopting a zero-contact policy as provided for under Ordinance No. 13992-2020. Under this policy, departments within the local government of CDO shall be required to adopt electronic submission of applications, requests and payments whenever applicable. 

City officials and employees shall communicate with the public through email, the local government’s website and other electronic means. They are required to limit their interaction with applicants of business permits and other public documents during the preliminary assessment stage. This phase covers the evaluation of all requirements submitted for government requests and applications. 

The protocol shall be observed for all transactions, except those which necessarily need physical interactions with city officials or employees. These include payment of application fees and transactions considered as highly complex and technical that would require the knowledge of government employees. In contrast, simple transactions were defined as requests which require only ministerial actions on the part of public officers, or those that present inconsequential issues to be resolved by the department concerned.  

As provided under Chapter 3 of the local ordinance, transparency shall be observed at all times to ensure a more efficient system of providing government services and to dispel any perception of corrupt practices. 

The CDO’s ordinance is in line with Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 2019-001. The primary aim of the government under the JMC is to promote integrity and accountability in government. This can be achieved by fostering proper management of government affairs and by establishing “practices aimed at the efficient turnaround in the delivery of government services”, as well as the prevention of graft and corruption. The implementation of simplified processes to mitigate instances of red-tape activities is also mandated under the JMC. 

The joint memorandum contains the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018. It provides for the implementation of a Whole-of-Government Approach. This process covers the review of existing and applicable laws, regulations and issuances earlier made by the government. The goal is to enter into a re-engineering process so that all measures are inclined towards streamlining existing government processes. 

The measure also provides for a Citizen’s Charter for every government agency. This forms the basis of efforts and the overall performance of organisations. The Charter shall likewise be the basis of rewards and incentives to be awarded to offices for their good performance. 

The CDO government is among several local units that have adopted innovative methods in boosting their operational blueprint. In the realm of healthcare, LGUs have been increasingly investing in digital programmes to address public needs. As previously reported by OpenGov Asia, the provincial government of Davao Oriental adds to efforts toward digital transformation. It is poised to implement the Davao Oriental Digital Contact Tracing System. Under the DAVOR-DCTS, residents, non-residents and tourists shall have their own Quick Response (QR) Codes when transacting with public establishments in the province.

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