EDITOR’S NOTE: This is an article from Charlie A. V. Gorayeb, national chairman of CREBA (Chamber of Real Estate & Builders’ Associations, Inc.)

Recent consultations with the country’s biggest real estate stakeholders put to fore major operational concerns that hound developers and property owners all over the country—that of conflicts and overlaps between the implementation of housing-related national and local laws, which the Chamber of Real Estate & Builders’ Associations, Inc. (CREBA) recently raised to the attention of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

For one, some of our LGUs have passed local ordinances requiring the installation of fire sprinkler systems in high-rise buildings in accordance with the Fire Code.

The housing sector definitely supports measures to ensure safe living and working environments for all residents and occupants of our buildings by preventing fire deaths and property loss. But the retroactive application of new rules to pre-existing buildings, which have already been granted all the necessary permits at the time of development, is impractical and poses a great disadvantage to unit owners who will bear the full costs of the new installation made even costlier and inconvenient due to required retro-fitting works.

In order to fulfill the safety precautions intended by this rule, the addition of 20 percent fire extinguisher support on all floors and the change from the usual wet chemical extinguisher units to the HCFC-type units which the LGU may allow to be sourced-out from a wider selection of suppliers may serve as alternative remedial measures.

Also becoming a concern is the requirement for an on-site Professional Mechanical Engineer. Since the enactment of Commonwealth Act No. 294 of 1938 setting forth the ME profession in the country, there are only approximately 5,600 registered PME out of the 95,000 licensed MEs in the roster of PRC, according to the Philippines Society of Mechanical Engineers (PSME).

‘With DILG leading the way for the various LGUs handling various permits and licensing applications, we hope for the full and strict implementation of the good governance and business-friendly objectives of the Ease of Doing Business Law.’

Assuming that the active practicing population up to this writing is hardly 3,000, it is still not enough to meet industry demand under the requirement to provide one PME for every project site. And while LGUs allow projects to contract an engineering or consulting company to perform this service for them, property managers are limited among LGU-accredited firms.

Developers have also encountered great hurdles complying with DPWH’s requirements for earthquake recording instrumentation for buildings, which again, is being imposed retroactively to existing buildings, and with few LGU-accredited suppliers when there are far better and more economical choices available in the market.

Providing the space for a seismic instrumentation room is in itself a substantial opportunity loss by the developer especially in the urban project locations where the price of land per square meter is at its prime. This is not to mention the maintenance cost that will eventually be added as a burden for the unit owners.

CREBA finds that the number of required accelerograph equipment can be reduced, especially in the commercial areas where each building will have installed the instruments of its own and that the rule be applied only to new projects.

With DILG leading the way for the various LGUs handling various permits and licensing applications, we hope for the full and strict implementation of the good governance and business-friendly objectives of the Ease of Doing Business Law.