Friday, April 3, 2015

This is the reply of the UAP with regards to the arguments raised by the Civil Engineers as contained in position papers submitted by the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE) on House Bill 5127 and SB 2623, amending Republic Act 9266, or the Architecture Act of 2004.

A. Arguments contained in PICE Board Resolution No. 02, Series of 2015

1. “Alleged deprivation of the PICE and PRB Civil Engineers (CEs) of their legal and constitutional right to be heard, an act which denied them of their inviolable right to due process…”

UAP: HB 5127 focuses on the proposed amendments to RA 9266 or the Architecture Act of 2004, and therefore the subject amendments are the concern of the architects.  Further, the proposed amendments did not in any way refer to the practice of civil engineering. 

2. “there were words, terms, phrases, sentences and even paragraphs that were incorporated, included and added to HB 5127, with some of them given definitions and descriptions therein which in effect divested the Civil Engineers of their rights, power, authority, in the exercise of their profession as embodied in their Professional Regulatory Laws..”

UAP:  There is absolutely NOTHING in the CE law i.e. R.A. No. 1582 of 1956 (which amended R.A. No. 544 of 1950) stating that CEs can prepare, sign or seal ARCHITECTURAL documents. Thus, Civil Engineers have no vested interest or right to practice architecture and therefore HB 5127 did not divest them of any right or authority to do so. Definitions of the architectural design, plans, and documents refer only to the architectural aspects and not in any way to engineering design.

3. “Section 6 of HB 5127 repealed section 43 of RA 9266, and its title illusory if not deceptive in violation of the constitutional provision/requirement under Section 26 of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, to wit:  Every bill passed by Congress shall embrace only one subject which shall be expressed in the title thereof”
“the repeal of Section 43 of RA 9266 without doubt divests and deprives/disenfranchises primarily the Civil Engineers, and other concerned/related professionals of the right, power, authority to exercise render what is provided for in their respective PRLs…”

UAP:  HB 5127 repealed Section 43 of RA 9266 only and did not repeal any provisions in the other professional laws such as the Civil Engineering Law.  

Section 43 of RA 9266 was precisely the reason or justification used by the Civil Engineers to encroach on the practice of architecture.  Notably, the two cases filed by the PICE against the DPWH pertaining to Section 302 on architectural plan requirements of the National Building Code have resulted in confusion and/or encroachments. (Department of Public Works and Highways vs. Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers, and United Architects of the Philippines versus PICE and Leo Cleto Gamolo).

Section 43 proved to be detrimental to the practice of architecture since civil engineers to this day continue to sign and seal architectural plans, even without the benefit of a rigorous academic training on architecture and a government license to practice architecture. 

Based on international standards, architectural design, plans and documents properly belong to and are the domain of the architects.  

B. Arguments contained in Position Paper on Senate Bill 2623

1. “At present, pursuant to RA 544, civil engineers may prepare, sign and seal architectural and structural plans.”

UAP: RA 9266 explicitly provides that only Registered Licensed Architects shall practice architecture and as such shall exclusively prepare, sign and seal architectural plans and documents.  There is absolutely nothing in the CE law which states that civil engineers can prepare, sign and seal architectural plans and documents. The UAP maintains that architectural plans of buildings and structures are the domain of the architect based on law, academic training, professional competencies and government licenses issued to enable one to practice.  Irrespective of the number of civil engineers, the practice should be limited to architects.

2. “HB 5127 has added ‘structures’ to the scope of practice of architecture without defining the term. This is unsound because the coverage of architecture could be expanded in the IRR preparation to include even those that do not traditionally belong to architecture such as bridges and other horizontal infrastructure.”

UAP: UAP maintains that all architectural aspects of the planning and design of buildings and structures properly belong to the architect. SB 2623 did not mention any single word about engineering designs but only architectural designs, plans and documents. 

3. “Aside from “structures”, the term “features or elements” referred to are not clearly defined in the bill. The word “features” may usually refer to appearance especially with regard to visual effect but the word “elements” can mean components, parts or essentials. When applied to buildings or structures, some people may interpret “elements” to include the structural system as well as the utilities (electrical, mechanical, plumbing/sanitary, electronics installations etc.). Therefore, architects may claim that these systems which can also be illustrated by means of plans, diagrams or detailed drawings are included in the architectural design which is not true because these belong to engineering design.”

UAP: Features and elements again refer to the architectural principles of utility, strength and beauty. The provisions of SB 2623 should not be interpreted separately but should be taken within the context of all the other provisions stated therein, thus there is no mention of any engineering design on the bill.

Architects can definitely illustrate the many different plans since it is part of their academic training. However, in depth engineering designs are not the domain of the architects.  The architect puts the whole building design together to come up with a cohesive whole.  The allied professionals are partners of the architects in the design and building industry.

4. “HB 5127 defines ‘Architectural Documents’ to refer to architectural designs, architectural plans, drawings, specifications, technical documents and other instruments of service prepared, signed and sealed exclusively by an architect;” Technical Documents should be defined as the term in general include; design analysis/ calculations, plans, specifications, bills of materials, tests, investigations, reports and others, prepared by all professionals involved in construction and land development activities, not just architects.”

UAP: The term technical documents must be understood as referring to architecturally related technical documents. The principle of Ejusdem Generis applies here - where general words follow the enumeration of particular classes of persons or things, the general words will be construed as applicable only to persons or things of the same general nature or class as those enumerated. Hence, Technical Documents is specifically Architectural Technical Documents. 

5. “The bill makes the preparation of architectural plans’ as the exclusively domain of architects. However, the term is defined in the bill to include ‘site development plan’ which has several components belonging to various professions such as civil engineering, sanitary engineering, environmental planning and geodetic engineering. Instead of clarifying, the bill could lead to confusion in the practice of many professions.”

UAP: RA 9266 specifically provides for the exclusive right of the architects to prepare, sign and seal architectural plans and documents, of which site development plan is a part of. Site development planning covers the siting of buildings on a lot, location and lay outing of main entrances, service entrances, space allocation of facilities inside a lot or complex, in consideration of wind and solar orientation, topography. It is precisely for the reason that a clear delineation of the instruments of practice are defined in SB 2623, so that accountabilities are established. Encroaching will therefor be limited, if not avoided.

6. “The bill is treating ‘Architectural Permit’ at the same level as ‘Building Permit’ even if the former is just an ancillary permit.”

UAP: The 2004 Revised IRR of the National Building Code (PD 1096) 1977 NBCP, Sections 302.3 and 302.4 states that only Architects shall sign and seal architectural documents, so that the DPWH must now issue the architectural permit in the form of an ancillary permit. All issues regarding implementation shall be covered in the IRR of this bill once it becomes a law.

7. “Types and sizes of buildings that should fall within the scopes of services of either an architect or a civil engineer (In the past, officers of the PICE and the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) met to identify and define these buildings. Both organizations should be encouraged or mandated to complete the task).”

UAP: UAP maintains that all architectural plans and designs properly belong to the architect and all civil engineering and structural designs belong to the civil engineers.  Previous discussions between PICE and UAP were made based on this understanding.


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