Easing Doing Business, as Promised

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By: Villaraza & Angangco Partner Maria Concepcion P. Simundac and Associate Marie Kristine F. Reyes
Salient Points in The Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 11032 otherwise known as the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018
The Implementing Rules and Regulations (“IRR”) of Republic Act (“R.A.”) No. 11032 was issued on 17 July 2019 with the aim of simplifying requirements and procedures that will reduce red-tape and expedite business and nonbusiness related transactions in government. It is with this objective that the IRR provides measures for expediency such as the Automatic Approval, Automatic Extension or Automatic Renewal of Licenses, Permits, Certifications and Authorizations, and Streamlining of Procedures for the Issuance of Local Business Licenses, Clearances, Permits, Certifications or Authorizations.
Scope and Coverage 
The IRR applies to all government offices and agencies in the Executive Department including LGUS, Government-Owned or Controlled Corporations (“GOCC’s”) and other government instrumentalities located in the Philippines or abroad that provide services referring to permitting, licensing, and the issuance of any privilege, right, reward, clearance, authorization or concession. 
Period to Act on an Application
All applications or requests for government service shall be acted upon by the assigned officer or employee within the prescribed processing time stated in the Citizen’s Charter which shall not be longer than three (3) working days in case of simple transactions and seven (7) working days in the case of complex transactions reckoned from the date the request or complete application was received.
For applications or requests involving activities which pose danger to public health, public safety, public morals, public policy, and highly technical transactions, the prescribed processing time shall in no case be longer than twenty (20) working days or as determined by the government agency or instrumentality concerned, whichever is shorter.
Prior to the lapse of the processing time, the office or agency is required to notify the applicant in writing of the reason for extension and the final date of release of the government service requested, which written notice shall be signed by the applicant as proof of notice. 
The number of signatories in any document is also limited to a maximum of three (3) signatures representing officers directly supervising the office or agency concerned. In case the authorized signatory is on official business or official leave, an alternate shall be designated as signatory.
Automatic Approval, Extension or Renewal of Permits 
Under the IRR, the failure to act by a government office or agency within the prescribed time causes the automatic approval, extension or renewal of a license, permit, certification or authorization. For original applications or requests, they shall be deemed automatically approved or granted if: (i) the government office or agency fails to approve or disapprove an original application or request within the prescribed processing time; (ii) all the required documents have been submitted; and (iii) all the required fees and charges have been paid covered by an official receipt.
Streamlining of LGU Procedures
The IRR also mandates the issuance of a Joint Memorandum Circular between the Department of the Interior and Local Government (“DILG”), Department of Information and Communications Technology (“DICT”) and Department of Trade and Industry (“DTI”) to implement the streamlining of procedures required by the IRR for the issuance of local business licenses, clearances, permits, certifications or authorizations. Included in the streamlined procedure is the implementation of a Single or Unified Business Application Form which should consolidate all the information and approval needed to process new applications for business permits and business renewals such as building clearances, sanitary permit, zoning clearance, and other specific local government requirement. The IRR also mandates the automation of the business permitting and licensing system for all cities and municipalities within three (3) years upon the effectivity of the IRR.
Violations under the Act
Certain acts are now considered punishable with administrative liability of six (6) months suspension on the first offense and even criminal liability or dismissal from the service on the second offense. These acts include (i) the imposition of additional requirements other than those listed in the Citizen’s Charter; (ii) the failure to give the applicant or requesting party a written notice on the disapproval of an application or request; (iii) the failure to render government services within the prescribed processing time without due cause; (iv) the failure to attend to applicants or requesting parties who are within the premises prior to the end of official working hours and during lunch breaks; (v) failure or refusal to issue official receipts; and (vi) colluding with fixers in consideration of economic advantage.

With the issuance of the IRR, the regulatory requirements for doing business in the Philippines are expected to be easier and faster. It is hoped that the ease in doing business will attract more investors to establish ventures and enterprises to further boost the local economy. 
The above article is information purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice.