SAI building in Tondo simply fell like a tree
ROSES AND THORNS - Alejandro R. Roces () - July 27, 2004 - 12:00am
Everytime we read about the damages an earthquake has caused in one of our neighboring countries we begin to wonder how our high-rise buildings would fare if a similar temblor happened in Metro Manila. We were dismayed when we read that a five-year old eight-story building, for reasons still to be determined, simply collapsed in Tondo. The good news was there there were no casualties. The bad news is that it means that the National Building Code is not being strictly enforced even in Manila.

Manila Mayor Lito Atienza has created a special body chaired by Secretary to the Mayor Emmanuel Sison to investigate the catastrophe. This means that they must first know why the building collapsed, then, pinpoint those responsible for the tragedy. It will either have to be the owner of the building, the structural engineers, the constructor or the government. We don’t include the architect because architects are allowed to design buildings only up to five floors. The SAI building was eight stories high so the responsibility, if any, would be on the structural engineer.

Buildings are not designed to fall like trees. A free falls when its roots can no longer hold it to the ground. Obviously, the SAI Building did not have a foundation sound enough to maintain it upright. After it fell, the building broke up. Mayor Atienza who was an eyewitness compared its breaking apart to "a glacier".

I was discussing with a couple who are close family friends – Mr. Anton Ynchausti and his wife Cheloy Tamayo Ynchausti, who happens to be an architect. It was she who did all the interior decoration of the Tennis Sports Center of Duke University at Durham, North Carolina. And it was she who loaned me her copy of the book The National Building Code of the Philippines and its implementing rules and regulations. Presidential Decree No. 1096 as signed by Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos clearly states. "All buildings or structures as well as accessory thereto shall conform in all respects to the principles of safe construction and must be suited to the purpose for which they are designed."

It is true that no one was killed or injured when SAI Building collapsed. The only damage was to property. Still, the whole matter should be thoroughly investigated. Obviously, the National Building Code was not followed. We hope that Mayor Lito Atienza will leave no stone unturned in pinpointing, first, the cause of the disaster; second, the individuals responsible for the collapse of SAI Building. What provisions of the National Building Code were violated?

This is a case that to our best knowledge has no precedent. Buildings collapsing by their sheer weight!

BUILDING CHELOY TAMAYO YNCHAUSTI FERDINAND E MANILA MAYOR LITO ATIENZA MAYOR ATIENZA MAYOR EMMANUEL SISON MAYOR LITO ATIENZA METRO MANILA MR. ANTON YNCHAUSTI NATIONAL BUILDING CODE NATIONAL BUILDING CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES
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