Nalzaro: Red tape and corruption in OBO

Bobby G. Nalzaro

HAD the scaffolding on the seventh floor of an ongoing building construction not collapsed while cement was poured, we would not have known that the owner and the contractor failed to complete the building permit application with City Hall’s Office of the Building Official (OBO). The incident, which happened Thursday dawn in Barangay Tejero, resulted in the injury of three construction workers.

Who is to blame, the building owner, the contractor or the OBO officials that processed the building permit application? The owner, Lite Shipping Company, tapped Devlarn Ventures and Development Corp., to construct the building, which would serve as the shipping lines’ main office.

Projects like this are package deals. After the owner presents the structural and architectural design of the building, the contractor, which has its own in house engineers, takes charge of the processing of the building permit application with the OBO. But in most cases, the contractor already started the construction even without completing the building permit application. Why? Because the contractor wants to finish the project ahead of schedule.

Besides, building permit applications with the OBO take some time to approve because of bureaucratic red tape and alleged corruption. OBO is perceived as one of the corrupt departments in City Hall. Building permit applications won’t move if the applicants do not succumb to the demands of corrupt officials and personnel there.

I suspect the contractor commenced the project even without a building permit because some “fixers,” who are also organic personnel in that department, are protecting it. OBO personnel also conduct site inspections. Anyone willing to inspect buildings that are undergoing construction will be shocked that most, if not all, of these have not complied with and completed their building permit applications. Most of the requirements are labeled “soon to follow.”

And this includes public infrastructures. Remember the new City Hall and the new Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) buildings? The contractors started these projects without complying with everything. Nagsalig lang kay gobyerno man.

OBO has ordered the contractor to stop the construction until all the safety requirements have been complied with. The Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) also came into the picture and issued a stoppage order. Again, these agencies can be called “Johnny-come-lately.”

Where were these agencies before the incident happened? Did they religiously implement the National Building Code of the Philippines by conducting a periodic inspection of construction sites? Again, these agencies may claim that they lack manpower. But don’t fool the people. Are we talking here of lack of manpower or because of corruption?