Two proposed measures in Congress have proved to be highly contentious, with architects and engineers locking horns over their roles once the proposals are enacted into law.
The United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) urged civil engineers in the construction and building sector to respect the role of the architectural profession in the area of architectural drawings of all types, and “not to encroach into clearly defined areas of professional practice.”
UAP National President Ma. Benita Ochoa-Regala noted that engineers have been “acting as architects, and such action transgresses professional delineation of their respective practices. A case in point is the signing by engineers of architectural plans when securing building permits in clear violation of the National Building Code.”
“That’s why we are pushing two bills in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, which will more clearly delineate our respective areas of professional practice,” Regala pointed out.
Two bills now pending in the two houses of Congress are House Bill 5127 and Senate Bill 2623.
The House bill is jointly authored by Reps. Susan Yap of Tarlac and Gary Alejano of Magdalo while the Senate version is authored by Senator Antonio “Sonny” F. Trillanes IV. The House version has been scheduled for second reading.
UAP President Regala, a respected architect, stressed: “We at UAP maintain that architectural plans and documents of buildings and structures are the exclusive domain of the architect based on law, academic training, professional competencies and government licenses issued to enable one to practice.”
Specifically addressing civil engineers, Regala declared: “We respect the professional competence of civil engineers with regard to the civil and structural design of buildings and structures.”
“In turn, we expect the civil engineers to accord the same respect for our profession,” she said, adding: “With due respect to all civil engineers in the country, we wish to emphasize one legal and professional point: “The architectural practice must be limited to architects”
The passage of the two bills will see “the dawning of a new era of mutual respect between and among architectural and engineering professions,” Regala pointed out. The law will establish professional accountabilities based on each of the disciplines involved in the construction and building industry, in the interest of public safety and welfare.
“We should put our house in order before the implementation of the Asean integration by the end of this year, so our foreign counterparts may now practice in our country without any ambiguity in any of our professional laws, Regala said.
The bill will make the UAP compliant with the provisions of the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Agreement.
Both pieces of proposed legislation seek to amend Republic Act 9266, otherwise known as the Architecture Act of 2004, in a bid to more clearly delineate the practice of architecture, and distinguish it from other professions.
The UAP, which is also recognized by the Professional Regulation Commission as the integrated and accredited professional organization of architects, has under its umbrella 35,000 architects all over the country.
The existing law, RA 9266, already explicitly provides that only registered licensed architects shall practice architecture and as such shall exclusively prepare, sign and seal architectural plans and documents.