A study by the Department of Education in Central Visayas (DepEd-7) showed that seven public elementary schools and four public high schools in Cebu City violated Republic Acts 6541 and 9514 or the National Building Code and the Fire Codes respectively.
The Office of the Building Official (OBO) admitted that the issuance of permits are bypassed whenever school buildings are being built.
OBO chief engineer Joy Ylanan said only one stair exit was built to save on construction costs.
“It’s troubling. If there’s a fire or earthquake and the students go out, they only have one stair exit to use and there would be a stampede,” said a city engineer who requested anonymity.
The same report also said most of the violators are elementary schools.
The Fire Corde requires school buildings occupied by 300 or more students to have two or three separate exits.
The DepEd-7 report said 11 of the schools that have 1,000 to 2,000 students have only one stair exit.
The four-story Gothong Memorial High School with 44 classrooms only has one stair exit.
Other elementary schools with four-story buildings and one exit are Basak Community Elementary School, Don Vicente Elementary School, Inayawan Elementary school, Pardo Elementary school, Tejero Elementary School and Zapatera Elementary School.
Also included were Pardo National High School, Talamban National High School and Don Vicente Rama High School.
Construction of these school buildings were mostly funded by the city with some from the DepEd. Most school buildings were finished last year.
The 11 schools also had only one doorway in each room in violation of the Fire Code, which requires two doorways.
The National Building Code classified such buildings as “dangerous” and “structurally defective” and should be repaired immediately.
Construction of one stair exit is pegged at P1.5 million to P2 million.
A four-story school building for the Talamban Elementary School will soon be completed but it only has one exit.
A previous DepEd-7 report showed that Cebu City spends the least for building schools in Central Visayas.
For a two-story building with four classrooms, the city spends only P4.260 million compared to the P4.5 million building cost by other provinces.
A four-story school building with 20 classrooms is pegged at P20 million.
“Due to the need to complete and use the building immediately, the issuance of a building permit is delayed,” Ylanan said.
She said they have yet to receive the DepEd-7 report.
City Councilor Roberto Cabarrubias said he will verify the DepEd report in an investigation to determine why these school buildings were allowed to be used in the first place tomorrow.
Cebu Daily News tried but failed to interview Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young, chairman of the City Council education committee.
At least two school buildings in the hinterland barangays of Toong and Buhisan were also found to have structural defects.
A Zamboanga del Sur-based contractor, MSDLR, is being ordered by the city government to repair the buildings lest they be sanctioned.
In Mandaue City, the City Council called on the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) to ensure compliance by school management and business owners of the Building and Fire Codes through mandatory inspections.
The council also pushed for another inspection of public and private buildings built before 1992.
City Councilor Nenita Layese said an inventory of these buildings should be submitted to determine their structural stabilities. With Correspondent Princess Kathleene Gabunales