Mayor Benjamin Magalong has signed City Council Resolution No. 118-2022 which grants an amnesty to businesses that are not compliant with the National Building Code and the zoning ordinance.
But the mayor emphasized that this reprieve should not be misconstrued as condoning violative acts and instead should be regarded as a grace period for the business owners to comply with the requirements of said laws out of humanitarian consideration as expressly provided in the council resolution.
He said the move is also aligned with the city’s resolve to give new business applicants the leeway to conduct business while rectifying their deficiencies or violations as what the city has been doing in consideration of their plight due to the effects of the pandemic.
Since 2021, the city has been granting permits to new businesses with deficient building code and zoning ordinance requirements subject to an undertaking that they will correct said deficiencies in one year. This however does not apply to applications with conditions that are irreparable or beyond rectification like those that are detrimental to the environment, located in wrong zones or in ruinous or dangerous areas, and those subject to court cases or legal questions like lots embroiled in ownership dispute or ancestral claim issues.
The city’s Tax Ordinance 2000-001 provides that a mayor’s permit cannot be issued to those whose business or undertaking does not conform to zoning regulations, safety, health, and other requirements of the city.
“But even if the city is strict in implementing this provision, it is empowered to adopt measures to protect and help its residents recover from the harmful effects of man-made or natural disasters and calamities like the pandemic and the city council resolution is an exercise of such power,” the mayor said.
An executive order may be issued to define parameters for the implementation of the council resolution.
Under Resolution No. 118-2022, the amnesty will be applicable to businesses that are non-compliant with the building code and zoning ordinance due to circumstances that are beyond their control.
It is anchored on Administrative Order No. 70-2009 which allows the issuance of business permits under special circumstances and Resolution No. 559-2021 which requests concerned city offices to implement A.O. 70-2009.
Under A. O. No. 70-2009, generally, all businesses shall secure a business permit with the approval of the Building Official and City Planning officer but this may be waived by the City in special circumstances if the structure was built prior to the effectivity of the Building Code when there is a pending townsite or building permit application, when business is a sari-sari store or a small-scale business, or when there is proof of ownership or right of possession.
The order however cautioned that “the issuance of a business permit shall not be regarded as an alternative of a building permit” and “does not extend to a license to construct buildings.”
The issuance of the business permit should also not “prejudice the demolition of structures that are considered as illegal, ruinous or abandoned …(and)… will not vouch for the structural integrity of the business premises.”
Moreover, “it will not waive the power of the City Mayor to demolish structures that are considered a public nuisance or to file a case for violation of P.D. No. 1096.”
In the resolution, the council added: “that during the implementation of the amnesty, those concerned lessors, lessees, and other independent business operators shall exert diligent efforts to perfect their titles, possession, and ownership over the land and buildings where they conduct their business operations.” – Aileen P. Refuerzo