Saturday, July 20, 2019

Catap-Lacson: Architecture Act of 2004, what happened?

AFTER the Chuzon Supermarket tragedy in Porac that claimed a number of lives, the urgency to review all existing laws and regulations pertaining to buildings is clearly expected not only in the affected areas, but throughout the country as well. This is to avert such incidents from happening again.

Interestingly, I chanced upon a post by the Philippine Architect's Services Portal-PASP reshared in Facebook stating that “the Municipality of Porac, Pampanga fully implemented and enforced the Architecture Act of 2004 by using the Architectural Permit in processing and evaluating Building Permit at the Office of the Building Official.”

RA 9266 seeks to distinguish the architectural profession from other fields such as civil engineering, and states that “the scope of architecture encompasses planning, architectural designing and structural conceptualization, consultation, architectural and operational planning, site analysis, schematic design, design development, preparation of architectural plans, construction and project management, planning, architectural lay-outing and others.”

My initial understanding tells me that this is the initial effort of the municipality to correct its inadequacies that may have directly or indirectly led to the collapse of the four-storey structure after the 6.1 magnitude earthquake. However, the said post was originally published on November 4, 2016. Almost three years before the historic April 22 disaster.

So what happened? If the said Architecture Act of 2004 is said to have been implemented in Porac, then I could just surmise and hope that the Chuzon Supermarket was constructed before 2016? Hopefully yes, but if not, then I think the said law is not being effected totally. In fact, after President Duterte’s site visit in the Ground Zero on April 23, it was reported that the Chuzon only had the permit to construct a two-storey structure.

So now, regardless when Chuzon Supermarket was constructed and if it is supposedly covered by the Architecture Act implementation in Porac, it is still clear that there are indeed violations committed not only by the owners but also the various personalities involved in the inspection and clearing of the said establishment.

I do hope that this sad, tragic incident will teach us especially our local officials, the lesson we learned in a hard way.


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