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Assessing the Government's 'Complaint Hotline' | CMFR

Assessing the Government’s ‘Complaint Hotline’

Screengrab from GMA News Youtube account.

 

“8888 CITIZENS’ Complaint Hotline,” created by Executive Order No. 6, was launched in August 2016 and institutionalized two months later. It was to be the public’s dedicated line for complaints and grievances about red tape and corruption in government offices. It was a laudable initiative that aimed to bridge the gap between citizenry and government.

A year later, has the hotline met its objectives?

CMFR cheers GMA-7’s 24 Oras and GMA News TV’s State of the Nation with Jessica Soho (SONA) for a special report that aimed to clarify the purpose of hotline 8888 and look into its effectiveness. The report also highlighted other factors which undermine the hotline’s efficiency.

Aired on August 21, the report looked into the performance of the hotline, noting that the Civil Service Commission (CSC), which manages the program, received 149,294 calls from August 2016 to June 2017. However, only 31 percent of those calls were related to red tape, government inefficiency, and graft and corruption—an indication that the public did not understand the core objective of the hotline. Interviewed by GMA-7, Dean Fe Mendoza of the University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration and Governance noted that “…in terms of being an anti-corruption tool, hindi siya masyadong naayos (it was not crafted very well).”

The report noted that all complaints received through the hotline were processed—73.22 percent were resolved by agents while 26.78 were referred to pertinent government agencies. CSC Public Information Office Director Liza Agamata explained that as part of the process, follow-ups are made and complainants informed of the action taken on their grievances.

To test the effectiveness of the hotline, the GMA-7 news team reported the presence of vehicles parked along the stretch of road in front of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) office on East Avenue, Quezon City. Agamata said the complaint was immediately referred to the LTFRB, which explained that it would take three to four weeks to resolve the situation. Should the LTFRB fail to act on the complaint, Agamata said the CSC may elevate the complaint to its office of legal affairs.

The experience showed that government agencies are themselves part of the problem.

The 8888 complaint hotline is far from perfect, but it is a step in the right direction. The initiative taken by 24 Oras and SONA to clarify 8888’s purpose and assess its efficiency showed which aspects of it need improvement. The government must take the cue from the findings of the report.