Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Beats me

Later this year, our manufacturing plant is transferring from its current Metro Manila location to one of the PEZA (Philippine Economic Zone Authority) locations in the South. We are building a new and larger facility at the new location.

One of the PEZA registration requirements was to get a clearance from the DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) which indicates that our company had no pending labor cases. Fine. It was a reasonable requirement and I had no problem with it since I knew for a fact that we had no pending complaints against us. The only thing is, I found out we had to get three clearances: one from the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), another one from the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB), and yet another one from the Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC). All three agencies are under DOLE. Strange, we were required to get the same clearance (of no pending labor case) from three agencies under the same department. I decided to personally attend to it today since we had a tight schedule, and besides the messenger might get lost in the perplexing web of bureaucracy.

First stop was the NLRC office at Quezon City. Not much of a hassle, but I had to pay a processing fee of 515 pesos and there was an additional requirement of an affidavit attesting that our company had indeed no pending labor case. I will have to go back armed with the affidavit before the clearance gets released. It was an unusual requirement though. Why should I need to produce an affidavit to the effect, if they will verify the same from their docket of pending cases anyway?

Next stop was the DOLE building in Intramuros, which houses both the NCMB and the BWC. The NCMB was pretty much straightforward, all they required was the letter request and they would release the clearance in two days. The BWC however, required much more. I was attended to by one courteous personnel who asked me to wait awhile as he had to go to another room to attend to something. It appears that a major Jollibee delivery took place and he was charged to distribute the snacks. I waited patiently in the room which happened to have five BWC personnel at their desks. They seem to be in a relaxed mood, there was no busy atmosphere, and some chatted away. I happened to be the only outsider in the room waiting to be served, but the amazing thing is that while I cooled my heels, I appeared to be invisible to those five government workers. I swear no one as much as glanced in my direction, it's as if I did not exist at all. Thankfully, the guy reappeared in about 15 minutes. He said I should come back and give a photocopy of our company's registration under DOLE rule 1020. I have no idea what on earth that is, so that will be another adventure. Further, it beats me why three agencies, under the same department, require varying requirements for the same, same clearance stating basically the same thing.

That's Philippine bureaucracy for you.


Anonymous said...

Hi Willy,
Beats me, too. For other stuff you're required to produce a birth certificate. Sometimes I think they won't believe you were born even though you're standing right in front of him.
- TE

WillyJ said...

Hey TE!
Haha. I doubt if they review those ancient procedures for sanity checks.

One of the reasons we are transferring to PEZA is because doing business there is much simpler and less costly too.
And of course there is Director General Lilia de Lima who is doing a great job (and is an honest and effective public servant as well).

sunnyday said...

I'm surprised nobody was selling tocino in the room. Didn't anybody come in hawking banana cue or maruya for merienda? :-D

That extremely relaxed atmosphere in government offices is soooo familiar. I know what you mean about being treated as if you're invisible in their midst! On the other hand, when I need to transact business at some window/counter in a government office, I liken the person on the other side of the window/counter to "lantang gulay." Walang kabuhay-buhay. Sometimes they even have a tv set right in front of them so instead of looking at you during the brief conversation, they're fixated on the tv screen like a zombie.

Well, good luck on your requirements and succeeding trips to these offices :-)

WillyJ said...

It's depressing how the bad eggs (majority?) stereotype the lot. I'm sure there are honest and sincere public servants too. May their tribe increase.

sunnyday said...

My first job after graduation was in a government agency, where I worked for over a year. Since then I've been either with the private sector or self-employed, and I've been able to see just how different an environment a government office is compared to a private one. When one wants to make a difference or at least accomplish a lot, something in the system in government makes it difficult to succeed in these goals.

I'm not sure if majority of civil servants are what I described, but many sure are. Which is why my former officemates who weren't like that, plus the civil servants I meet who seem to go by high ideals, were such an inspiration. Kailangan lang talaga, networking with like-minded individuals :-)

The culture of excellence just needs to be emphasized and ingrained in civil servants somehow.