By Arjay L. Balinbin, December 22, 2021; Business World

Seven government agencies signed an agreement on Tuesday signifying their intent to reduce the steps and processing time for obtaining construction-related permits.

“The new policy reduces the steps in securing construction-related permits from four to three steps and the processing time for simple transactions from five days to three days,” Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) Deputy Director-General Ernesto V. Perez said during the virtual signing of the joint memorandum circular (JMC).

The JMC also removes the notarization requirement for application forms. The memorandum circular covers all cities, municipalities and relevant National Government agencies.

The JMC, which updates the 2018 guidelines on the processing of construction-related permits, sets the standards for processing construction-related permits such as building permits, certificates of occupancy and other ancillary and accessory permits issued by local government units (LGUs).

It also provides guidelines on the streamlining of local government processes related to the issuance of construction-related permits and certificates.

Under the JMC, LGUs are directed to classify construction-related applications for building permits and certificates of occupancy into simple, complex, and highly technical.

Simple applications cover the construction of private garages (not more than 90 square meters), carports, sheds, agricultural buildings, fences over 1.80 meters in height, and tanks and towers, among others.

Complex applications cover the construction of multiple-unit residential houses, single detached residential houses, commercial buildings, warehouses, and market buildings, among others.

Highly-technical applications cover the construction of buildings exceeding nine storeys such as commercial and market buildings.

“This means that the processing time for simple transactions will be reduced from five to three days,” ARTA said in a statement.

“There will also be a set processing time of seven days for complex transactions and 20 days for highly technical transactions in alignment with Republic Act No. 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018,” it added.

The JMC also calls for the setting up of a one-stop shop for construction permits in all cities and municipalities.

An oversight committee on construction permit reform will also be formed to ensure compliance.

Signatories to the JMC were Interior Secretary Eduardo M. Año, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez, ARTA Secretary Jeremiah B. Belgica, Information and Communications Acting Secretary Emmanuel Rey R. Caintic, Professional Regulation Commission Chairman Teofilo S. Pilando, Jr., Public Works and Highways Acting Secretary Roger G. Mercado, and Bureau of Fire Protection Director Louie S. Puracan.

Mr. Caintic replaced former Secretary Gregorio B. Honasan II, who filed his certificate of candidacy for senator on Oct. 8.