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Rough Cuts | The often ignored National Building Code

Yesterday morning shortly before 8 o’clock, we were shocked to see how a motorized traffic enforcer of the City Traffic and Transport Management Office (CTTMO) in Davao City obviously showed his blatant disregard of the rules he is supposed to implement and for people to follow.

The incident happened between crossing Balusong and Matina Crossing section of the MacArthur Highway where there are two parallel yellow lines at the center of the road. The motorcycle-riding traffic enforcer is presumed to know what the double yellow lines on the center of the highway mean. That is, that overtaking using a portion of the other lane beyond the yellow lines is not allowed at any time.

But to our chagrin, and without doubt to the consternation of some other drivers who know and religiously follow the rule to the letter, the motorized traffic enforcer from the CTTMO whizzed by the left side of vehicles occupying the inner lane of the highway going to the city proper. And he was already using the opposite lane.

Apparently, the other motorcycle riders took the cue from the traffic enforcer and almost all of the two-wheel motorists followed him.

We were unfortunate even as the motorcycle-riding traffic enforcer was lucky. We were unable to take note of the vehicle’s plate number. He cleverly wiggled through available little spaces in-between vehicles denying us the opportunity to see the motorbike’s license plate.

Anyhow, we are hoping that our idol police officer now retired P/Col. Dionisio Abude, head of the CTTMO, can find time to assemble his people and remind them of their responsibility to be model for people to strictly follow traffic rules.

Colonel Abude must admonish them that being traffic enforcers do not give them license to violate the rules they are mandated to implement.

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We should not anymore be surprised why many structures have been damaged by the three successive strong earthquakes that hit a portion in Mindanao only in as many weeks. The assessments made by a group of structural engineers acknowledged as experts in the field were enough reason for the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) chief Dr. Renato Solidum to air his passionate plea to future building owners to comply with the provisions of the National Building Code.

However, we believe that the Phivolcs chief should have issued a separate call intended for officials of government agencies with regulatory powers for building construction. In Davao City we believe the offices critical for construction projects are the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO), the City Engineer’s Office (CEO), and the Office of the City Building Official (OCBO).

The CPDO is the office that determines the compliance of a building project of the provisions of the city’s Zoning Ordinance that is the basis of the local government’s issuance of a locational clearance.

The CEO is charged of issuing building permits with support from the OCBO supposedly after a thorough evaluation of the building plan vis-à-vis the condition of the project site. After the issuance of the building construction permit the CEO is supposed to inspect every now and then the progress of construction to check if the work done is in accordance with the approved building plan. It is supposed to immediately call the attention of the building contractor and owner should its monitoring team find any deviation from the plan. Some deviations include reducing the number of iron bar supports on building posts and beams, down-sizing them, and use of inappropriate cement-sand-gravel mix, as well as use of low quality hollow blocks for walling.

The question is whether or not the CEO and its functionaries really undertake regular inspections of building construction projects. We know for a fact that the CEO issues building permits based only on the submitted plan. Seldom does it conduct pre-approval inspection of sites, and more so does it conduct regular monitoring of the progress of construction.

It seems that the CEO has full and unimpeachable trust in the supervising officer of the construction company undertaking the project.

And it is even apparent that the CEO or its attached offices do not mind issuing Certificate of Occupancy and other related clearances solely on the basis of filled-out application documents by the building owner.

On these premises we find it important for the Phivolcs national director to also call on the executives of the building construction regulatory offices to do their mandated responsibilities religiously; that they must shun any offer of monetary consideration in exchange for their blind approval.

We believe that for as long as approval of building permits can be “negotiated” there will always be those contractors and building owners who will circumvent the National Building Code. And therefore, more and more buildings become vulnerable to earthquakes in the days, months or years to come.

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