A state-run agency has asked two professional bodies to speed up the hearings on high-profile architect Felino Palafox, Jr. who has been accused of violating the code of ethics for architects and environmental planners and sabotaging the development of an economic zone now being developed in Eastern Central Luzon.
The Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (APECO) said that Palafox’s license to practice could be suspended if the Boards of Architecture and Environmental Planning under the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) find him guilty of breaching the code of ethics for architects and environmental planners.
APECO filed the complaints with the two PRC boards in May 2011.
APECO earlier fired Palafox as master planner after the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) and the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) declared the plans he prepared for the ecozone unusable.
Palafox, nonetheless, charged and collected P32 million for the unused plans, said APECO President Robbie Mathay.
“Palafox did not only rob APECO blind, but also the communities that stand to benefit from the development,” said Mathay. “The lesson we have learned here is this: self-proclaimed gold is oftentimes dross.”
“Palafox’s sloppy work is proof that he is hardly the conscientious architect he pretends to be,” he continued.
In November 2008, APECO awarded and signed a design services contract with Palafox Associates, which won the bidding for the master plan development of the ecozone.
In March 2009, Palafox Associates requested a supplemental contract from APECO covering hydrologic study and hydraulic design allegedly not covered by the original contract. Both parties signed the supplemental contract in June of the same year.
A month later, Palafox Associates informed APECO of its outstanding balance amounting to almost P8.5 million in professional fees.
APECO responded with a memorandum supported by the OGCC stating that the surveys under the supplemental contract were already covered by the original design services contract.
The CAAP and PPA also issued an opinion stating that Palafox Associates’ design placing the seaport in close proximity to the airport was ill-chosen, rendering the design useless. In both complaints, APECO asserted that Palafox acted in bad faith when it insisted on a supplemental contract even before the original contract was fully completed. Palafox claimed that the original contract could not be accomplished without the supplemental studies and surveys. However, Palafox Associates eventually submitted reports without actually conducting the surveys and studies it proposed, resulting in unusable and defective plans. Not content with the damages he had already caused APECO, Palafox still divulges information he acquired during his service to APECO, in clear violation of the confidentiality of information between the client and contractor. “Palafox Associates acted in bad faith,” said APECO President Robbie Mathay. “It took advantage of APECO’s trust, inducing it to enter into an unnecessary supplemental agreement and practically robbing it blind.”
He added, “Palafox failed to protect APECO’s interests as its client and even caused incalculable harm to the ecozone’s development. And until now it continues to make malicious allegations and libelous statements against APECO. Palafox must be disciplined and penalized once and for all.” (30)