This position paper pertains to the various PBA bills filed in the House of Representatives and the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines to repeal Presidential Decree No. 1096, also known as the 1977 National Building Code of the Philippines (NBCP).
As the accredited professional organization (APO) for architects, mandated by Republic Act No. 9266 also known as the Architecture Act of 2004 to oversee the welfare of all registered and licensed architects (RLAs) and to assist the Professional Regulatory Board of Architecture (PRBoA) in regulating professional architectural practice in the country, the objective of the UAP in presenting this position paper, is first and foremost, to advocate for a sustainable built environment that safeguards and improves the lives of the Filipino people.
Secondly, the UAP aims to spread awareness about the function of architects in the built environment, often gravely mistaken as purely aesthetics-oriented. Subsequently, acknowledging that the architect is not a sole professional in the field but one among the many State-regulated professionals collaborating to improve the built environment, the UAP advocates for the engagement, not just of architects, but of all the building professionals who specialize in the different aspects of the built environment with the end goal of development and nation-building.
While the UAP supports most provisions of the Proposed “Philippine Building Act of 2020” as prepared by the Committee on Public Works in Substitution of House Bills No. 175, 238, 364, 723, 825, 923, 1650, 1891, 4008, 5605, 6820, 7334, and House Resolutions No. 32 and 132, in order to protect the interest of each profession and the general public, we are unable to manifest support for the entirety of the current version of the substitute bill. In line with this, the UAP respectfully submits its recommendations and comments on the draft bill (attached as Annex “Y”) for consideration in the proposed act, to wit:
1. SEC. 50. Responsibilities of Building Professionals.
We recommend that before this section defining the responsibilities of building professionals, a section be inserted mandating engagement of the services of the appropriate building professional for each specialized field in building design, and explicitly enumerating those professions. The rationale behind this is to properly delineate in the basic law the basic and legally recognized building professions and to prevent overlapping of services.
As reference on the responsibilities of professionals, we have attached herewith Annex “X”.
SEC. 5X. Engaging the Services of Building Professionals
This Act mandates that the services of the appropriate building professional for each specialized field in building design must be engaged in the preparation, signing and sealing of building plans and documents in full accordance with their professional regulatory laws. These Building Professionals include but are not limited to:
2. SEC. 19. General Requirements for Design.
We recommend that after the section on General Requirements for Design, a section be added on how the reference standards for the Act shall be chosen, and how these should be updated regularly, consistent with the spirit of the Philippine Building Act, as a responsive and adaptive piece of legislation. The rationale behind this is to ensure that all these “standards” are included, as well as explicitly stating their relationship and hierarchy within the system of standards. The reference standards must be clearly named in the proposed Act and must include all existing professional practice codes.
SEC. 20. Reference Standards.
The reference standards for this Act shall not be limited to its IRR, but include the stream of regulations to wit: standards, guidelines, procedural manuals, department issuances, joint circulars, documents of suppletory nature, and the like.
Key examples of “Reference Standards” are the Architecture Code of the Philippines (ACP), the National Structural Code of the Philippines (NSCP), Philippine Electrical Code (PEC), Electronic Code of the Philippines (ECP), Philippine Mechanical Engineering Code (PMEC), Revised National Plumbing Code of the Philippines (RNPCP), and Interior Design Code of the Philippines (IDCP).
3. SEC. 6. Definition of Terms.
We recommend that the following terms be included in this section:
Building Plans, Architectural Assessments, Lot Survey Plans, Architectural Documents, Civil/structural Documents, Electrical Documents, Mechanical Documents, Sanitary Documents, Plumbing Documents, and Electronics Documents
These definitions highlight the multi-disciplinary nature of the building process.
We also recommend the inclusion of the following terms:
Easements, Setbacks, Firewalls, Footprint, Building Bulk, Public Domain, Development Controls, Over-Building, Over-Paving, Stringency, etc.
These terms are all key to preventing over-building and over-paving at the built environment
4. SEC. 50. Responsibilities of Building Professionals.
We recommend that before this section defining the responsibilities of building professionals, in addition to our first recommendation, that a section stating explicit deference of the Act to valid and subsisting Professional Regulatory Laws. This will prevent overlapping of services of Building Professionals and properly lay the groundwork of the IRR on this matter.
SEC. 5X. Deference to Valid and Subsisting Professional Regulatory Laws
The proposed Act must unequivocally defer to valid and subsisting professional regulatory laws (PRLs).
5. SEC 71. Oversight Committee
We recommend the inclusion of this provision for Continuing Congressional oversight for all PBA IRR, standards, and guidelines preparation processes and for all PBA accreditation processes.
SEC 71. Oversight Committee.
This Act and its implementing rules and regulations shall undergo a review of provisions every five (5) years, or more frequently as necessary, to make the law more responsive to the needs of the times. For this purpose, an oversight committee shall be created which shall be composed of four (4) members each from the House of Representatives and Senate to be designated by the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate, respectively.
6. SEC. 10. Buildings Classified According to Required Track of Permitting Process.
We recommend the removal of this provision of the Act as the same is improper and unreasonable.
“Provided, that should the Building Owner opt, under applicable laws and professional regulations, to lawfully disengage the previously engaged Building Professional for design and to engage as new Building Professional for design an Accredited Structural Peer Reviewer who has been previously engaged as peer reviewer according to this Section, a new independent Accredited Peer Reviewer shall be required.”
7. SEC. 48. Powers, Obligations, and Functions of Local Building Officials.
We recommend the inclusion of this provision in this section, to ensure compliance with the civil service standards and the protection of the intellectual property rights of the building professionals.
The office of the local building official (OLBO) and its members shall not engage in any form of competitive professional practice (in and out of office).
The LBO shall be fully responsible for the protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) over documents (hard and soft) submitted to the OLBO.
The inclusion of the foregoing in the text of the proposed Act (and ultimately in the text of the future law) are the conditions that have been set by the UAP and its membership for support of the proposed Act.
As ready reference on the responsibilities of State-regulated building professionals listed in item 1, attached herewith as Annex “X” is the 2015 position of the PRC during the term of the then Chair, Dr. Florentino C. Doble, M.D., submitted to the then speaker of the house, Hon. Feliciano Belmonte Jr., with the objective of protecting and safeguarding the exercise of all professions in the interest of public safety and welfare.
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