Eng’rs. oppose proposed local law urging strict enforcement of architecture act of 2004

PSC-WOMEN GINTONG GAWAD AWARDEES - The city government congratulated and commended Patricia Claire Bleau A. Pacheco, a learner from the Baguio SPecial Education (SPED) Center, and Sherry Ann G. Floresca, a Junior High School student of the University of the Cordilleras, as Gintong Gawad Awardees of the Philippine Sports Commission - Women in Sports on June 14, 2022 during flag-raising rites at the City Hall grounds. The national award is a platform to celebrate and pay tribute to ground-breaking inspiring, notable, timeless and outstanding contributions to the promotion and development of women in sports at the grassroots level. Pacheco was awarded for "Babaeng Atleta, Modelo ng Kabataan (Person with Disability) while Floresca for "Proyektong Isport Pangkababaihan". Mayor Benjamin Magalong together with members of the city council and city administrator Bonifacio Dela Peña handed over the framed resolution numbered 364 (series of 2022) to the athletes.**Photo by Neil Clark Ongchangco
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BAGUIO CITY – The civil engineers here have expressed opposition to a proposed local law seeking the strict implementation of the Republic Act No. 9266 otherwise known as the Architecture Act of 2004.
The proposed ordinance authored by Councilors Ma. Mylen Victoria Yaranon and Betty Lourdes Tabanda, if and when approved, would mandate the City Buildings and Architecture Office (CBAO), the City Engineering Office (CEO), and the City Human Resource Management Office (CHRMO) to strictly implement the provisions of RA 9266.
According to the proposed ordinance, the practice of architecture shall be the exclusive domain of a licensed architect and that all architectural plans, documents, and appurtenant papers which serve as ancillary requirements for the approval of a local building permit shall be prepared and signed only by licensed architects in compliance with RA 9266.
Section 20.5 of RA 9266 stipulates that only architects are authorized to prepare, sign, and seal all architectural plans, designs, specifications, drawings and architectural documents relative to the construction of a building.
Furthermore, Sections 302.3 and 302.4 of the Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Presidential Decree No. 1096 otherwise known as the National Building Code of the Philippines as promulgated by the Department of Public Works and Highways stipulate that plans previously prepared, signed, and sealed by civil engineers or architects are now to be prepared, signed, and sealed exclusively by architects.
The Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE) – Baguio Chapter took issue with the proposed ordinance, asserting that it would “adversely affect and curtail” the practice of civil engineering which is mandated by Republic Act 544 otherwise known as the Civil Engineering Law.
Under RA 544 and Presidential Decree No. 1096, civil engineers are allowed to sign and seal architectural documents.
In its position paper submitted to the Baguio City Council, the PICE-Baguio Chapter stressed that the issue as to whether or not the design plans and/or other pertinent documents should only be prepared, signed, and sealed by architects to the exclusion of civil engineers is a legal case and is now pending before the Supreme Court (SC).
On January 5, 2012, the Court of Appeals (CA) decided in favor of civil engineers regarding their rights under RA 544. The Court ruled that civil engineers have the right to prepare, sign, and seal architectural plans and specifications for submission to Building Officials as provided for under RA 544 and Presidential Decree No. 1096.
The PICE-Baguio Chapter remunded the city council that the case which is pending before the SC is bound by the sub judice rule which “restricts comments and disclosures pertaining to pending judicial proceedings to avoid prejudging the issues, influencing the court, or obstructing the administration of justice.”
“We, the PICE-Baguio Chapter officers, advisers, members, are obligated to inform our trusted councilors to conscientiously evaluate how this divisive proposed ordinance affects the related issues pending in the SC which may interfere with the SC’s judicial authority, prejudice the judicial proceedings, and/or cause the possibility of being held in contempt,” the position paper read.
The PICE-Baguio Chapter further expressed that it is prudent to wait for the final decision of the SC on the case.
The Baguio City Council invited the concerned city government offices, the PICE-Baguio Chapter, and the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP)-Baguio Chapter to its regular session last September 12 in aid of legislation.
Engr. Richard Pascua, PICE-Baguio Chapter President, reiterated their opposition to the proposed ordinance.
On the other hand, Arch. Jonard Don Jardenil, UAP-Baguio Chapter President, expressed support for the proposed ordinance as it will “strengthen the implementation of RA 9266 at the local level.”
Engr. Stephen Capuyan and Arch. Homer Soriano, representatives of CBAO, said they have been implementing the memorandum from the National Building Code Development Office (NBCDO) which ordered all building officials to stop using the new forms under the revised IRR of the National Building Code including NBC Form No. A-01 and NBC Form No. A-02 which are signed and sealed exclusively by an architect; and to use instead the old application forms, design plans, and other forms under the original IRR of the National Building Code which are signed and sealed either by an architect or an engineer.
Engr. Victorio Olpindo, City Engineer, stressed that the civil engineers of the city government have been preparing and signing building plans and monitoring building projects “since time immemorial.”
Tabanda, co-author of the proposed ordinance, said the best thing to do at present is to suspend the approval of the proposed city ordinance.
“As a lawyer, I would say that prudence dictates that we await the decision of the Supreme Court. In the meantime, we will have to abide by the order of the National Building Code Development Office. Let us not put the CBAO in a precarious condition,” Tabanda expressed.
Meanwhile, Councilor Peter Fianza asserted that there is no need to pass such an ordinance considering that any national law in itself can be implemented without the enactment of a local law.
The matter was earlier referred to the city council’s Committee on Laws, Human Rights, and Justice.
In his committee report, Fianza stated that the passage of the said ordinance will influence the other more or less 50 professions in the country to call for the enactment of similar local laws compelling strict implementation of their regulatory laws.
“The national law regulating the practice of architecture is actually even clearer than the proposed ordinance,” Fianza added during the forum.
The matter was returned to the committee to be studied further. **Jordan G. Habbiling


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