9 March 2021, Cagayan de Oro City—Local Economic and Investment Promotions Officer (LEIPO) Eileen E. San Juan, presents to the officials of the City of Manila how the City of Cagayan de Oro successfully integrated the application for and issuance of barangay business clearances into its business permit and licensing system.

The University of the Philippines Public Administration Research and Extension Services Foundation, Inc. (UPPAF) invited Cagayan de Oro to present along with the cities of Valenzuela, Quezon, and Parañaque. UPPAF, through the USAID funded Regulatory Reform and Support Project (RESPOND), is currently assisting the City of Manila in streamlining its business permitting system.

This is the second time that Cagayan de Oro has been asked to share how it managed what is perceived as a thorny process. The first time was in a peer-to-peer session with the cities of Tagbilaran and Puerto Princesa, which was facilitated by the USAID Strengthening Urban Resilience through Growth with Equity (SURGE) Project—a five-year effort ending this year that assisted second-tier cities like the aforementioned three, as well as the cities of Batangas, Iloilo, and Zamboanga, in cultivating and maintaining conditions for inclusive, resilient economic growth.

Barangay governments have customarily dictated the cost of obtaining barangay clearances for business. This changed when the Departments of Finance (DOF) and the Interior and Local Government (DILG) jointly issued guidelines for standardizing the computation based on direct costs incurred in providing the service.

Cagayan de Oro’s road to integrating barangay business clearance fees in its BPLS was far from smooth. But the path was paved, as LEIPO San Juan recounts, by:

1. Gradually immersing the barangay governments in the process, starting with an onsite workshop in the last quarter 2019, transitioning into regular virtual consultations and webinars throughout 2020;

2. Supporting the integration with automation. The city’s Management Information Systems (CMIS) Office developed in-house a Barangay Clearance Approval System (BCAS), enabling barangays to remotely monitor and approve applications; and

3. Continuing the conversation among all barangays, city and national offices concerned, including the City Council.

Cagayan de Oro has long blazed the trail in automating business and building permit processes, launching its online application and payment systems in 2017, and originally developing its BPLS and realty tax payment system (RPTS) as early as the late 1990s, even making the system available to neighboring local government units (LGUs).n

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