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According to the Supreme Court, local governments may establish a distinct ‘building official’ office.

MANILA, Philippines — Local government units (LGUs) may choose to construct and designate their own local building official apart from the city engineer’s office, according to the Supreme Court.

The SC’s Second Division refused the petition filed by former Baguio City municipal engineer Leo Bernardez Jr. and affirmed the Court of Appeals’ (CA) verdict on the lawsuit he brought against the city administration in 2004 in a decision posted online on May 20.

A local administrative order issued by then-Baguio City Mayor Braulio D. Yaranon in response to a city ordinance establishing Oscar V. Flores as the city’s acting building official was challenged in the lawsuit.

Building permits are issued by the Building Official in accordance with the National Building Code (PD 1096).

Bernardez claimed that his appointment relieved him of his duties as city engineer, citing the Local Government Code (LGC, Republic Act 7160), which states that the city or municipal engineer simultaneously serves as the local building official.

The complaint was dismissed in 2009 by the Baguio regional trial court, which ruled that the LGC provided the city mayor the ability to form new offices as needed to carry out the tasks of his office. The CA upheld the RTC’s decisions.

“While city or municipal engineers shall also act as local building officials of their respective cities or municipalities,” the SC stated, “it is still within the legislative discretion of city or municipal government to create and organize a separate and distinct office of the local building official.”

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