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The ARTA chief complies with the suspension order.

Director General Jeremiah Belgica of the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) stated he will abide by the Office of the Ombudsman’s suspension order in the wake of graft accusations brought by a telecommunications company against him and four other ARTA employees.

The six-month suspension order, according to Belgica, is a preventative measure rather than a finding that the executives are guilty of the bribery allegations.

He explained in Filipino, “This is to preserve and guard the integrity of all records so that we cannot influence the investigation.”

On Monday, Belgica, ARTA Deputy Director-General Eduardo Bringas, Division Chief Sheryl Pura-Sumagui, and directors Jedrek Ng and Melamy Salvadora-Asperin submitted a counter-affidavit and application for reconsideration with the Office of the Ombudsman.

a problem with frequency

ARTA issued a Resolution of Automatic Approval on March 1, 2021, declaring NOW Telecom’s application for frequencies 1970 to 1980 megahertz paired with 2160 to 2170 MHz and 3.6 to 3.8 gigahertz to be complete and “deemed the same as automatically approved.”

Government offices are required to approve applications in three days for simple transactions, seven days for difficult operations, and 20 days for highly technical transactions under the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) and Efficient Delivery of Government Services. The EODB statute stipulates the 3-7-20 rule.

DITO Telecommunity Corp., the National Telecommunications Commission’s (NTC) new major player (NMP), claimed that the ARTA resolution “directly impacts its rights as the NMP and assignee of such frequencies,” according to ARTA.

The ARTA resolution and directive for automatic approval “did not determine that NOWTel is the new significant player,” according to the organization.

“Just to be clear, ARTA does not approve the application.” We don’t have the power to award frequencies or temporary authorization. The agency determines whether the application is approved or denied, but if it is not, the legislation is invoked. In a press conference, Belgica stated, “We have no intention of seizing any power from the NTC to give frequencies to NOWTel.”

The 3-7-20 regulation, however, does not include the assigning or awarding of radio frequency use, as this is quasi-judicial in nature, according to a judgement by the Office of the Secretary of Justice in 2021, which was affirmed by the Office of the President.

“ARTA’s decision is governed by the Office of the Solicitor General’s (OSG) legal opinion dated March 2, 2020, declaring that it has authority over quasi-judicial agencies,” ARTA said.

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