SURIGAO del Sur 1st District Rep. Romeo Momo Sr. said a review of the National Building Code of the Philippines (NBCP) is long overdue citing the recent damage to infrastructure caused by the 6.8-magnitude earthquake in Sarangani.
Initial reports showed several houses and infrastructures in the province were left in ruins after the devastating quake, which killed at least seven people.
“The earthquake that hit Mindanao last Friday should already serve as a wake-up call. I implore my colleagues to pass this bill while we’re at a critical juncture of our disaster preparedness and risk management policies,” Momo said. “We cannot afford to make mistakes or neglect our duties when lives and livelihoods are at stake.”
The country’s existing NCBP was passed in 1977.
Momo, chairman of the House Committee on Public Works and Highways, issued a statement since the proposed Philippine Building Act (PBA), which will update the NBCP, remains pending in the Senate.
Last August, the House of Representatives already passed in third and final reading its version of the PBA. The version of the bill in the Senate is still under deliberation.
“As public servants, we must now more than ever join forces and ensure our fellow Filipinos are kept from harm. The power has always been in our hands. I call on my colleagues in Congress to pass the Philippine Building Act bill swiftly and without further ado,” Momo said.
He said the pending PBA will ensure the standardization of building design, location, materials, and safety measures against natural calamities.
Among the salient provisions of the bill, he said, would make a structural review of buildings mandatory every 15 years.
It will also classify buildings according to their fire resistance rating, occupancy, and permitting process.
The bill will also set the list of general requirements for the standardization of location and zoning, design, construction, materials, permits and licenses, and occupancy, maintenance, and abatement.
Congress to issue funds
MEANWHILE, House Deputy Majority Leader for Communications and ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Erwin T. Tulfo announced that lawmakers would work closely with the administration on the immediate release of funding support for the rehabilitation and recovery efforts to assist the victims of the earthquake.
A statement was issued by his office after Tulfo visited the affected areas in General Santos City and Sarangani province last Sunday.
“I assure the people of Mindanao that the House of Representatives would move to mobilize resources needed for rehabilitation and recovery aid in areas greatly affected by the earthquake,” the statement quoted Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez as saying.
Upon consultation with House Committee on Appropriations chairman and AKO Bicol Partylist Rep. Zaldy S. Co, Tulfo said the House leadership would coordinate with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to tap its Quick Response Fund (QRF) for reconstruction and rehabilitation programs and repair and replacement of damaged infrastructure facilities.
Tulfo said Romualdez, who joined President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. during the recently concluded Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) in the United States, has been giving instructions after he provided comprehensive updates on the status of the affected areas.
“Ang instruction sa atin ni Speaker Romualdez tiyakin na mahahanapan ng pondo ang rehabilitasyon ng mga nasirang lugar at pagkakaloob ng kabuhayan sa mga naapektuhan,” the lawmaker said.
“Marami talaga ang nasira. Hindi lang mga tulay at kalsada, lumubog rin ang malaking bahagi ng Glan Fish Port. Sa Sarangani pa lang ang initial estimate P200 milyon ang kakailanganin. Hinihintay pa natin ang ibang assessment pati sa General Santos City at Davao Occidental. Ilang daang milyong piso ang kakailanganin natin para sa ating mga kababayan,” Tulfo added.
“Mabilis at tuloy-tuloy ang pagtulong ng Tingog Party-list para maramdaman ng mga residente dito na laging nandito ang Kongreso sa pamumuno ni Speaker Romualdez,” the lawmaker said.
Tulfo also inspected the Glan Municipal Hall, which would need an estimated P30 million to repair its damaged parts.
The lawmaker said the offices of the Speaker and DPWH District Engineer Rey R. Francisco would also distribute construction materials for individuals whose homes were damaged by the earthquake.
He called on the Department of Labor and Employment to provide livelihood initiatives to help the victims who lost their income after the earthquake.