Council OK’s anew amnesty for power connection

The city council has once again approved an ordinance granting an amnesty to applicants for electric connection for a period of six months. The ordinance shall provide relief to applicants in the issuance of Certificate of Final Electrical Inspection (CFEI) or Certificate of Electrical Inspection (CEI) for Electrical Service Connection.
The amnesty shall apply to all residential dwellings with no building permits but with building tax declarations and to agricultural structures such as sheds, barns, and hatcheries, among others. The ordinance stipulated that structures built in violation of the National Building Code of the Philippines and other related laws should not be condoned, further stating that the CBAO and other concerned agencies are not prevented from demolishing the structures based on other lawful grounds.
Under the ordinance, the following are the requirements for the issuance of the CFEI/CEI by the City Buildings and Architecture Office: Electrical plan duly signed and sealed by a licensed professional electrical engineer and certified to be compliant with the Philippine Electrical Code; proof of ownership of the structure or building like deed of sale, waivers, tax declaration of the building or authorization from registered/declared building owner; certificate of non-tax delinquency of the building or Certificate of Exemption from payment of real property tax; and barangay certification attesting that the applicant is a bonafide resident of the barangay.
The ordinance stressed that lack of access to electric service limits every member of the society to benefit from equal opportunities for economic development and increased living standard.
Moreover, the need for electrical connections is even more apparent during this COVID-19 pandemic as the use of technology is vital to distance learning, the ordinance added.
In past years, the city council has passed a number of ordinances for the grant of electric connections to residents with no building permits for their dwellings “for humanitarian reasons.” The latest ordinance granting an amnesty for electric (and water) connections for a period of six months was passed in 2018, but the amnesty already lapsed in March 2019.
In a dialogue with the city council in September 2019, Engr. Nazita Bañez, former CBAO Head, made it clear that she is not supportive of another measure granting an amnesty to applicants for electric and water connections as this is not in line with the City’s 15-point agenda.
She claimed that granting amnesty to owners of structures without building permits “contributes to environmental degradation and tolerates illegal settling in the City.” Bañez claimed that some applicants who were issued CFEIs/CEIs by virtue of ordinances granting an amnesty have structures built on public lands that are not fit for human habitation.
According to her, building structures in those areas will further worsen the sorry state of the city’s environment. She added that the amnesty runs counter to one of the 15-point agenda of the executive body which is Revitalizing the Environment.
Bañez further claimed that many of these houses are within forest reservations and public lands which are protected areas. The former city buildings official also raised concerns on the safety of people who illegally built houses on lands that are prone to landslides and accidents caused by falling trees.
Taking note of these observations, the city council revised the draft of the ordinance. The amended and final version of the recently approved ordinance stipulated that the amnesty does not apply to structures within forest and watershed reservations; within waterways, road-right-of-way, and declared high risk areas; and those with pending demolition orders or those that were once demolished in the same place.
Jordan G. Habbiling/ABN

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