BAGUIO, Philippines – The vast majority of structures built in Baguio have no building permits, making many of the city’s buildings pose significant legal and safety risks for the owners, occupants, and communities.
Data from Baguio’s Buildings and Architecture Office (CBAO) showed that approximately 80% of the city’s structures – roughly 96,000 of 120,000 structures – have no valid permits, leaving only around 24,000 structures, with proper paperwork.
Engineer Stephen Capuyan, CBAO head for demolition operations, confirmed that most of the landowners built structures on their land without first acquiring permits from the city.
The CBAO figures showed a significant increase compared to earlier figures from the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO), which indicated that only 25% of Baguio’s structures had no building permits as of early 2022.
Engineer Nazita Bañez, the CBAO head, said proper permits, which require the expertise of a licensed engineer, can be processed with the help of private building experts.
Bañez urged business establishments and building owners to secure their permits and undergo checks, which can be performed by private engineers, rather than going through the CBAO.
She said private engineers possess the same knowledge and skills as the CBAO and can perform the necessary inspections.
Capuyan, however, said building owners in the city encounter challenges in securing permits due to what they saw as “exorbitant” fees charged by private technical professionals who prepare building plans and designs.
Encroachments on other properties and road right-of-ways further complicate the permit acquisition process, he said.
As building permits are processed by these technical professionals, such as engineers and architects, the CBAO can only provide limited assistance.
Capuyan urged structure owners to seek the CBAO’s help instead in obtaining the necessary permits.
Their failure to secure permits from city hall may result in demolition, he warned.
To avoid demolitions and help building owners, the city government has simplified the permit application process.
City hall’s simplified permit issuance program is primarily for structures on titled lots.
But initial numbers of applicants were low – there were only 25 during the first week of the implementation of the simplified processing of permits.
Local officials said there were nearly 100,000 structures that still lack proper permits to date. – Rappler.com
Angel Castillo is an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow.
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