A total of 39 dormitories near the University of the Philippines in Diliman were recommended by the Quezon City Building Department for closure for failing to comply with fire safety standards.
Quezon City Building official Isagani Versoza said most of the occupants of the dormitories located in Barangay Krus na Ligas are students of the state university.
Verzosa said that aside from failing to comply with the fire safety requirements, inspections made on the dormitories proved that they were built without building permits.
Despite protests from the owners as well as students renting spaces in the dormitories, Versoza said that they were left with no choice but to issue a shutdown recommendation adding that the protection of occupants are more important as well as public safety.
“Owners who wish to conduct repairs or improvements in their buildings should secure building permits. Since the nature of our current building laws is curative and not punitive in nature we can only recommend to the office of the mayor their closure or demolition,” Verzosa said.
Verzosa maintained that the city government has given them notice months before the recommended closure orders where handed out and given to the mayor’s office.
He dared the building owners to name names if they were extortion victims of any of his men saying that their complaint will be treated with confidentiality as he sought the public’s assistance by reporting the corrupt ways of building inspectors or any Building Office personnel.
With more than 30, 000 private buildings to inspect, Verzosa admitted that their lack of personnel makes it “very difficult for them” to conduct building inspections.
However, Verzosa said that with whatever available resources the office has inspections of the city structures are conducted year-round.
Besides the complaints from the dormitory owners, some UP students said they are willing to take their chances as some of their co-boarders stayed until graduation without any trouble.
“We are poor UP students from the province wanting to get a good education. If indeed the places where we are staying are unsafe, can the government provide us with any viable alternative? It is not enough for them to recommend the closure of the dormitories. They should also look into our predicament. We need to stay in comfortable places which we can afford,” one UP student said.
Besides the private buildings, Verzosa said that his office is routinely inspecting 142 public school buildings and government offices like the Social Security System (SSS) and Department of Agriculture (DA).
In its inspection in the last six months, Verzosa said that 72 buildings were given show-cause orders after the inspectors found defects in the structures.
He added that 153 buildings were issued show-cause orders due to their lack of the necessary documents and permits for building construction.
One of the owners of the dormitories who requested anonymity doubted the sincerity of the Building Department in conducting surprise inspections saying that is just one of their “ploys to milk money.”
He also questioned the timing of the inspection, which he described as a form of harassment as some of them might give in to the “extortion” of errant employees of the city’s building officials.