A few weeks ago, I came across a social media post about a Department of Transportation (DoTr) official from the Visayas announcing her elation over a collaboration between a well-known personality from the business community and the DoTr for a shelter project in Cebu City.
It could have been a harmless post if not for the fact that the subject was a high-ranking DoTr executive and she was excited to report to the public the benefits the agency would get from the services of the businessman.
Also, the post would have been just fine if the businessman the DoTr was hiring is the right professional for the project. The businessman is known in Philippine society, but his line of work is not related to building shelters.
She tried to get rid of the post, but it was too late as netizens were able to comment on it. They politely asked her to respect the right professionals for the project. Getting the services of non-professionals to do the works of state-regulated professions just because they have big names is really odd.
Why hire a non-professional instead of the licensed one when the work involves the safety of people, integrity of structures and the protection of environment? Why issue statements that run counter to government regulations? Why hire a carpenter to construct a building?
Why allow one who is not academically equipped and qualified to do the design of a building take the helm of an importan development? A carpenter can go scot-free if the structure he built collapses because he is not bounded by the Civil Code of the Philippines. He is not covered by a state-regulated professional license to design or construct a well-thought-of shelter for man.
The right professional should do the work. What is for Pedro is for Pedro and what is for Juan is for Juan. That’s why professionals undergo so many years of schooling. Others also take apprenticeship programs after the official academic years before taking the board exams to practice a state-regulated profession.
What happens if a quack doctor operates on a person? Can an underboard in accountancy make the right financial statement or feasibility study for a reputable firm? How can a junior engineer do the structural computations of a new intermodal transport structure? I don’t agree that an allied designer should build an architectural component of an intermodal transport system that would shelter people.
I dread the day when the right professionals are ignored and replaced by those without the license just because careless government officials believe big names can do the job right. Should we forget about the regulation of each profession? Should we forget about taking the continuing professional development seminars to enhance knowledge and uplift competence amid the evolving open market competition in the Southeast Asian region and the world?
The practice of state-regulated professions is under the mandate of the Professional Regulations Commissions. This was initiated by the government. The government should be advocating what is right. To promote nation-building, it should support the right profession in the field of construction. Who can better help the government in its Build Build Build program?
It is also the duty of every professional to offer their expertise and field of work to the government for the sake of our nation. There will be chaos in the land if government officials don’t respect the right professionals.
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The writer is the national president of the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP) and the first national president from Mindanao. He has been in private practice for more than 34 years and is a fellow of the UAP. He is also the first Asean and APEC architect from Davao City. He finished his Bachelor of Science in Architecture degree from the University of Mindanao and is a doctor fellow of the Royal Institute of Architects Singapore.