THE Supreme Court (SC) has reinstated the ruling issued by a Manila trial court which affirmed the constitutionality of a provision in the revised implementing rules and regulations (RIRR) of the National Building Code (NBC) limiting to registered and licensed architects the authority of preparing, signing and sealing documents enumerated under Section 302 of the NBC.
In a decision penned by Senior Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, the Court’s Second Division granted the consolidated petitions for review filed by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) seeking the reversal of the Court of Appeals’ (CA) ruling issued on January 5, 2012 and resolution dated February 13, 2013. The CA ruling reversed and set aside the decision of the trial court upholding the validity and constitutionality of Sections 302(3) and 302(4) of the NBC’s RIRR.
The appellate court’s decision and resolution granted the petition filed by Leo Cleto Gamolo and the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers Inc. seeking the reversal of the trial court’s ruling and to declare Sections 302(3) and 302(4) of the RIRR as unconstitutional.
The CA’s ruling, in effect, upheld the authority of civil engineers to prepare, sign, and seal various plans, including architectural documents under Republic Act 544 or the Civil Engineering Law.
In granting the DPWH’s and UAP’s petition to set aside the CA’s decision, the High Tribunal gave weight to Section 20, paragraph 5 of Republic Act (RA) 9266 or the Architecture Act of 2004.
The said provision states that “all architectural plans, designs, specifications, drawings, and architectural documents relative to the construction of a building shall bear the seal and signature only of “a registered and licensed architect.
While the Court agrees with the respondents that civil engineers have authority to prepare, sign, and seal plans under Section 308 of the NBC and RA 544 , it clarified that such power has been modified by RA 9266.
The SC noted that RA 9266 was passed to provide “for a more responsive and comprehensive regulation for the registration, licensing and practice of architecture.”
Among its declared policy is to recognize “the importance of architects in nation building and development.”
“The language of Republic Act No. 9266 reveals an intention on the part of the legislature to provide for a limitation on the civil engineers’ authority to prepare, sign, and seal documents relating to building construction,” the SC explained.
Taking into consideration the irreconcilable conflict between the two laws, this Court recognizes that RA 9266 has impliedly repealed RA 544 insofar as it permits civil engineers to prepare, sign and seal architectural documents, it added.