Anti-red tape officials suspended over graft charges

The Ombudsman, the Philippines’ anti-graft court, suspended officials of the Anti-Red Tape Authority including the chief.
The Ombudsman, the Philippines’ anti-graft court, suspended officials of the Anti-Red Tape Authority including the chief.

Complex and frustrating government bureaucracy remains a problem in the Philippines, but so is corruption, with a little grease money often used to ease those long wait times and cut through red tape. The Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) is a government body that was created to help prevent corruption by removing such bureaucratic obstacles, but several senior ARTA members have now been accused of being complicit in corruption themselves.

Five officials of the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), including its head honcho, were ordered suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman for six months based on charges filed by DITO Telecommunity alleging that ARTA gave preferential treatment to one of its competitors.

In an order addressed to Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Ombudsman Samuel Martires said that the suspension was necessary in order to avoid “prejudice [in] the case filed against them”, to secure the necessary documents and to prevent the harassment of witnesses.

DITO Telecommunity Inc. complaint against the ARTA officials accused the body of favoring its competitor, NOW Telecom Company Inc, in a dispute over the distribution of contingent frequencies.

DITO, which is owned by Dennis Uy, who was one of the major campaign donors to President Rodrigo Duterte’s 2016 presidential campaign, also filed complaints against ARTA officials for alleged violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and called for an investigation into their grave misconduct and gross neglect of duty.

DITO became the country’s third telecommunications company in 2019. Last year, the president signed a law that renewed its franchise and allowed the company to operate until 2046. 

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