Senator Leila M. de Lima today called for a Senate investigation into the implementation of 8888 Complaint Hotline to ensure how it has become effective and accessible to ordinary citizens in need.
De Lima, a known human rights defender, filed Senate Resolution No. (SRN) 550 urging the appropriate Senate committee to look into the purported failure of the hotline in accommodating concerns and complaints about corruption in government offices.
“Congress has the responsibility to conduct a probe and study the implementation of 8888 Complaint Hotline as to its effectivity and equal accessibility to all citizens,” she said.
“Every peso of Filipino taxpayers’ money must be spent on programs and government services that actually work and are responsive to their needs, and not on programs launched merely to cosmetically or superficially fulfill campaign promises,” she added.
In 2016, Duterte signed Executive Order No. 6 “to institutionalize a public complaints hotline involving all agencies of the government, and build on existing public feedback mechanisms for the realization of the government’s policy to eradicate red tape and corruption.”
Through the 24-hour service manned by “live agents,” citizens can call in to report corrupt officials, underperforming government personnel, and unfinished government projects.
Based on news reports, however, most of the calls via the citizens’ complaint hotline were not about corruption complaints, if not “unserved.”
The telephone hotline reportedly served 54,743 calls in its first five months of operation (from August to December 2016), but then failed to accommodate around 1.4 million calls because the unit was “undermanned.”
A half of the served 8888 calls, meanwhile, were allegedly not related to the implementation of the Anti-Red Tape Act or to government frontline services
De Lima, a former justice secretary, said the Filipino taxpayer’s money must be used on worthwhile projects that are accessible to all and will not further burden the Filipino people.
“As reported, aside from the challenges in accessing the citizens’ complaint hotline, many concerned citizens have also expressed their dismay about the implementation of the program, particularly since telephone companies charge them a fee of around Php5.00 per minute if they call the hotline from their mobile phones,” she said.
“While there is no charge if they call via landline, this program is still not accessible to all, especially because not everyone has an access to landlines and prepaid mobile phone users would not be able to access the hotline either by call or SMS if they have no remaining credits,” she added.
De Lima maintained the administration must iron out the protocols and ways to successfully manage the hotline, otherwise cease its operation.