10 awesome things gov't agencies are doing

MANILA, Philippines - Let’s stop global whining for a moment and look at 10 things that government officials, employees and agencies are doing right.

More than enough has been said about how “hopeless” the Philippine government is. We appear to be the best at being the worst, ranking high in lists like “Southeast Asia’s most corrupt countries,” and “Countries leading in coral reef degradation.”

But there are still leading lights in the Philippine bureaucracy, often buried under the louder, more negative issues. It’s time to give credit where credit is due:

#10- Less waste in the Senate

In February 2012, Sen Pia Cayetano wrote a letter to the Senate Secretariat to do away with PET bottles during the impeachment trial of then-Chief Justice Renato Corona. Soon after, water dispensers and reusable glasses were provided during sessions.

Before that, the environmentally conscious senator pursued the establishment of the Senate’s Materials Recovery Facility. She also initiated the move to ban the use of single-use plastic and Styrofoam packaging in the Senate and enforced the "No Waste Segregation, No Waste Collection" policy.

Reports show that the residual wastes being churned out by the Senate has been reduced in half.

Sen. Cayetano’s initiatives show that no one is exempted from following the law—especially not those who write them.

#9- Marrying romance and environment

Every Valentine’s Day, Mayor Ed Hagedorn of Puerto Princesa City weds hundreds of couples for free on one condition: they must plant mangroves after.

The project, called Love Affair with Nature, includes a mangrove-planting orientation before the wedding ceremonies, and environmental quiz bees, concerts, and beach games after.

On a similar note, there’s a local ordinance in Camotes, Cebu, mandating newlyweds to plant a tree too.

#8- Online applications to avoid long lines

The National Statistics Office (NSO), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) have partnered with Pilipinas Teleserv for a project called Citizen Services.

This allows citizens to set passport appointments, process the POEA Overseas Exit Clearance, and order birth/marriage/death certificates online and chat with an agent if you need a little more help.

The passport, POEA Overseas Exit Clearance, and NSO-issued certificates can be delivered to your doorstep anywhere in the Philippines.

#7- Renewal of drivers’ licenses and passports in malls nationwide

A good number of Driver’s License Renewal Centers and DFA “passporting sites” are now found in malls all over the country.

Driver’s License Renewal Centers are commonly found in SM and Robinsons malls nationwide. Since this is a venue dedicated to renewing licenses, you won’t need to compete with, say, first-time applicants and people who need their cars registered.

In January 2012, the DFA entered into memoranda of agreement with private firms operating malls nationwide. After making your passport appointment online (see #8), you can head to the mall for your appointment.

The releasing time of passports has also been shortened from 31 working days to 14 for regular processing, and up to 7 working days only for rush processing.

Both services are a big leap from the whole day, stress-inducing processes in hot and crowded offices. Renewing your driver’s license and passport should only take about 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the volume of applicants that day. That leaves you with plenty of time to shop, dine, or catch a movie after.

#6- Improvements in airports and airline procedures

Frequent fliers have seen improvements in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminals 1-3.

All terminals now have free wireless Internet. The terminal fee for international flights has been reduced from PhP750 to PhP550, while local terminal fees have been incorporated in plane fares since August 1, 2012. The booth called “Inspector Verifier Counter” whose only purpose is to rip the terminal fee stub has been removed as well.

Also in 2012, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) passed a joint administrative order which sets guidelines on overbooking, rebooking, and ticket refunds, among others.

Under the Order, airlines are directed to compensate passengers whose flights were cancelled and delayed under certain provisions; fully disclose promotional fares; and pay passengers P2,000 if the lost baggage was not delivered within 24 hours from the arrival of flight.

What are the top 5 Awesome Things that government officials are doing? Catch them when we publish Part 2 tomorrow. - Rappler.com