PAMPANGA Representative Aurelio Gonzales Jr. has reportedly "rallied the support of fellow civil engineers in the country to invoke their authority to sign and seal documents for building permits application."

Gonzales made the rally call during the induction ceremony of the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (Pice) national board, Gonzales said civil engineers should oppose “attempts to practically disregard their oversight on public and private constructions.”

Gonzales, a civil engineer by profession, particularly voiced out concern on Sections 29 and 3 of House Bill 10234, which is now for deliberation in the House Committee on Civil Service and Professional Regulation.

He said if the bill’s definition of terms would be followed, civil engineers' signature and professional seals would no longer be needed on architectural documents such as plans for site development, floor, partition, reflected ceiling, roof, wayfinding and signage, code, coordination, perspectives, elevations sections, and detail drawings, among others.

“House Bill No. 10234 defined these plans as architectural documents that only registered and licensed architects can sign and seal,” Gonzales said.

Also included in the documents that “only registered and licensed architects can sign and seal are space and architectural programs, space planning survey reports, space and stacking plans, architectural design briefs, architectural drawings such as furniture, furnishings, equipment, and other schedules, perspectives, architectural technical specifications, architectural cost estimates, and other instruments of service in any form.”

Some or most of these documents are among the requirements in securing building permits from local government units that bear both architects and civil engineers signature and stamp.

“If we, Civil Engineers would remain silent about this and without voicing out our concerns, we might end up nothing to sign and seal for purposes of procuring building permits before the LGUs or other agencies,” Gonzales said.

Components of the bill, he explained, run contrary to House Bill 4797, which Gonzales filed, seeking “to regulate and promote the Civil Engineering profession with the end goal of giving additional benefits and protecting our role as one of the leading professionals in the great task of nation-building.”

There also exist pending cases before the Supreme Court that aim to settle the validity of an amended implementing rules of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) that allowed only the architects to sign and seal documents and plans.

Petitioned before the Court of Appeals, the ruling was set aside in favor of the civil engineers before it was eventually elevated to the High Court.

“I am manifesting before the Committee on Civil Service and Professional Regulation to take note of the Court of Appeal’s decision and allow both the civil engineers and architects to sign and seal the said documents/plans and incorporate it in House Bill No. 10234,” Gonzales said.

“We must put, first and foremost, the welfare of the people who stand to benefit from our work. As partners for development, we are responsible for providing infrastructure that will serve the next generation,” Gonzales added. (With Princess Clea Arcellaz)