By Elijah Felice Rosales, January 16 2018; Business Mirror


Image Credit to Business Mirror

In support of the government’s infrastructure program, four state agencies committed to a joint memorandum circular (JMC) that seeks to simplify the procedure of applications for construction-related permits.

Under JMC 2018-01, the departments of Trade and Industry (DTI), Public Works and Highways, Interior and Local Government, and of Information and Communications Technology instructed local government units (LGUs) to adhere to service standards on processing simple applications for construction permits. It covers single-dwelling residential buildings of not more than three stories, commercial buildings of not more than two floors, renovation within a mall with issued building permits and warehouses housing nonhazardous substances.

The circular directed LGUs to implement a four-step processing system in issuing building permits. This procedure begins with the submission of application with complete documentation, followed by the receipt of order of payment, then payment of fees, concluded by the issuance of permits.

The circular also trimmed down processing time to five working days maximum, while the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) is mandated to issue building permits within three working days.

The same four-step processing system and processing time is recommended on applications for certificates for occupancy.

In order to accomplish this, the state agencies ordered LGUs to establish one-stop shops intended to consolidate the processing of clearances, including building permits, certificates of occupancy, locational clearances, tax declaration, tax clearances, certificates of final electrical inspection.

It also covers clearances required by the BFP, such as the fire-safety evaluation clearance and fire-safety inspection clearance.

According to the circular, the ideal one-stop shop is to have representatives from the LGU’s Office of the Building Official, Treasury Office, Zoning Office, Assessor’s Office and BFP housed in one area at the municipal hall.

The circular also allows joint inspection teams to be organized to spare applicants from the burden of accommodating multiple inspections before their clearances are issued.

The circular is expected to improve the country’s performance in ease of doing business, according to Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez. The country slipped to 113th last year, from 99th in 2016, in the World Bank’s “Doing Business 2018” report, and was 101st in processing construction permits.

“We fervently support the implementation of this circular, as it strengthens our previous efforts to eliminate red tape. Now that JMC 2018-01 is in place, we look forward to improved ease of doing business and better performance in doing business rankings,”
Lopez said.

The circular, according to the DTI, was issued in response to President Duterte’s call to reduce the procedure for the issuance of government permits so as to support the government’s infrastructure program, the “Build, Build, Build.” The President has repeatedly made public his discontent with the country’s procedure on releasing construction permits, and even went on to attack the Judiciary for issuing restraining orders on questioned government projects.