The Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) is seeking tougher fines and penalties against developers and contractors of substandard and defective construction of structural units.
During yesterday’s MAYBATAS#PALA, PAO chief Persida Acosta cited those behind the construction of residential units, townhouses and other structures could be held liable under the National Building Code of the Philippines or Presidential Decree 1096.
She, however, lamented that violators of the law could only be meted out two-year imprisonment and be penalized with P20,000 if found guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
“Two years is not enough,” she stressed, adding that “An erring developer only gets blacklisted (by concerned government agencies).”
She called lawmakers to raise the fine and impose a higher jail term.
“The sanctions are light. That is why there are rampant violations. This is a challenge to the members of Congress and our senators to impose a tougher sanction so we could get rid of these (negligent) developers and contractors,” she said.
She invoked Article 1725 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines stating that “The owner may withdraw at will from the construction of the work, although it may have been commenced,
indemnifying the contractor for all the latter’s expenses, work and the usefulness which the owner may obtain therefrom, and damages.”
PD 1096 states that “All buildings or structures as well as accessory facilities thereto shall conform in all respects to the principles of safe construction and must be suited to the purpose for which they are designed.”
Acosta said under Article 1723 of the New Civil Code, the engineer or architect who drew up the plans and specifications for a building/structure is liable for damages if within 15 years from the completion of the building/structure, the same should collapse due to defect in the plans or specifications or defects in the ground.
The engineer or architect who supervises the construction shall be solidarily liable with the contractor should the edifice collapse due to defect in the construction or the use of inferior materials.
“One uses one’s hard-earned money, pension, retirement benefits or salaries just to build a home, then it would just collapse after some years,” the PAO chief said.
She cited a Supreme Court Report Annotated on Substantial Deviations that sanctioned a developer and its contractor for a substandard office building in Manila completed in 1966.
The defendant was found to have made substantial deviations from the plans and specifications, and violations of the terms and the contract.
On Aug. 2, 1968, a strong earthquake hit Manila, causing the building to tilt forward dangerously.