The devastation and loss of life caused by recent calamities, such as the magnitude-6.9 earthquake that struck Davao del Sur last Dec. 15, drive home the need to strengthen building safety standards in the Philippines.
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson stressed this as he filed Senate Bill 1239 to help protect the public from the effects of natural and man-made disasters, while giving the antiquated 1977 National Building Code a much-needed update.
“Experience tells us that there is an urgent need to strengthen the overall policy on how buildings and structures are built in the country. Not to mention the country’s geographical location along the boundary of major tectonic plates and at the center of the typhoon belt, coupled by its socially and economically vulnerable population, it becomes even more imperative to review our four-decade-old National Building Code,” Lacson said in his bill.
He noted that last Dec. 15, a deadly magnitude-6.9 quake hit Davao del Sur, causing the collapse of at least two buildings and a water reservoir. Some sectors had called for updating building standards to make buildings earthquake-resilient.
On the other hand, Lacson’s bill pushed for a multi-sectoral effort, led by the Department of Public Works and Highways, to make buildings resilient to other calamities such as fires and cyclones as well.
Senate Bill 1239 aims to not just ensure the safety and welfare of the people but also “pave the way for responsible and sustainable nation building, establishing the Philippines as an exemplary model of world-class standards.” Reforms sought by the proposed new Philippine Building Act include:
* Streamlining the building classification and permit application process
* Consideration of multiple hazards and new factors in building design
* Creation of an inter-agency and multi-sectoral regulatory body
* Regulations for old buildings’ assessment and maintenance
* Incentives for retrofitting and use of environmentally sound and sustainable materials and technologies
“With the recent effects of climate change and the increasing magnitude of natural and human-induced disasters that confront us as a nation, a few things are clear: Disaster preparedness is key to saving lives and properties, and that multi-sectoral cooperation proves more effective than just government efforts alone,” Lacson stressed.
“The key points and objectives of the bill all point towards improving the safety of lives, betterment of public welfare, preservation of the environment, risk mitigation from hazards, and evidently, sustainable development,” he added.