Amnesty ordinance okayed on second reading

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BAGUIO CITY  – The city council approved on second reading after publication a proposed ordinance granting amnesty to applicants for electric and water connections in the city for a period of four months that will take effect after the May 9, 2016 general and automated elections.

The proposed ordinance cited that the application for amnesty shall be filed with the city building and architecture office (CBAO) in the case of power connections and at the Baguio Water District (BWD) for water connections with the condition that they pay the required fees with the concerned offices.

However, the council stated the amnesty does not mean the condonation for the structures built in violation of the provisions of the National Building Code and other related laws and that the CBAO and concerned agencies shall not be prevented from demolishing the said structures based on other lawful grounds.

Among the requirements that must be accomplished by the applicants for amnesty include tax declaration under the applicant’s name, if not, a waiver or authority from the registered lot owner, certificate of non-delinquency of tax, barangay certification attesting that the applicant is a resident of the place, that the lot or structure is not in a right-of-way, that the lot or structure is not located in waterways and BWD water facilities and pipelines, that the lot or structure is not under high tension wires and that the lot or structure is not subject to demolition and had been previously demolished.

One of the salient provisions of the amnesty ordinance is that indigent applicants shall be granted a 50 percent discount on regulatory fees and labor and professional fees provided that they secure a certificate of indigency from the barangay and the city social welfare and development office.

The council cited the electrical plans or format must be uniform and must be confirmed by the Institute of Integrated Electrical Engineers (IIEE) Baguio-Benguet office. In the case of water connections, a standard form must be filed at the BWD.

In lieu of the certificate of final electrical inspection (CFEI) being issued to those with building and occupancy permits, the ordinance provides that a certificate of electrical inspection will be issued by the CBAO.

The local legislative measure pointed out that the amnesty shall not apply to structures built in forest reservations, watersheds, other properties identified as government or military reservations and those who squatted within title private properties.

Furthermore, the ordinance stated that the amnesty applies only to structures built on or before the effectivity of the ordinance based on CABO inventory and barangay certification.

Some of the councillors warned their colleagues that it is high time for the council to correct an erroneous act of passing an ordinance which cannot repeal a national law because it might open the floodgates to the filing of charges against those implementing the amnesty which usually crops up every election period.

An estimated 5,000 electrical and water connection applicants stand to benefit from the grant of the said amnesty.

By Dexter A. See

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