DESPITE moves made four months ago to ease the process, less than 0.1 percent of building owners in the city have taken advantage of the simplified permits
Baguio’s City Buildings and Architecture Office (CBAO) has started to enter the city’s barangays one by one to visit illegitimate structures in titled lots, with initial efforts in barangays DPS Compound, Cabinet Hill, Marcoville, and the area covered by Teachers’ Camp under the program started early this year to legitimize all 96,000 illegitimate structures in the city, .
However, only 100 building owners so far have applied to legalize their buildings and comply with all the necessary requirements to own a building in Baguio City in the past four months, with the simplified permit process having turned up only a small fraction of building owners targeted by the program.
According to City Building Official Johnny Degay, the office has started handing out letters to the building owners in the said barangays giving them 15 days to initiate the process of acquiring an appropriate building permit and complying with all the requirements, plus another 15 days if they signify their intent to comply.
Failure to do so within the period would lead to a notice of violation and the commencement of appropriate penalties in accordance with the National Building Code, which include fines and potential imprisonment, and possible demolition orders according to CBAO official Stephen Capuyan.
According to Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong, the city is looking to double its efforts in encouraging and enticing building owners to acquire appropriate permits, as 80 percent or nearly 96,000 buildings remain in the city without proper permits.
As part of Magalong’s directives, the city previously negotiated with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to reduce the requirements for building permit applicants, shortening the timeframe for receipt of building permit to 20 days upon application provided all requirements are met.
The efforts of the city also include associations of the various professionals in the city including civil and electrical engineers whose inputs are required for the processing of permits to lower their fees, according to City Administrator Bonifacio Dela Peña.