Three heritage buildings crumbling, up for probe

Office of the Building Official personnel place caution tapes on the external premises of the Locsin-Coscuella Building in downtown Iloilo City on May 3, 2023 following reports of broken glass falling from the building’s windows. (Photo from Office of the Building Official Iloilo City/Facebook)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

The Iloilo City government said three buildings in the downtown heritage zone will be investigated by experts for possible structural problems.

A May 4, 2023 report submitted to Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas on May 10, Office of the Building Official (OBO) chief Mavi Gustilo indicated that the Locsin-Coscuella, John A. Tan, and the S. Villanueva (or Atmer) buildings must be investigated by a structural engineer to be hired by the building owners.

The Locsin-Coscuella Building at the corner of Iznart and Ledesma streets was observed to have suffered exposed and corroded reinforced steel bars, presence of wide and deep concrete cracks, presence of water leak marks, exposed unorganized electrical wiring, and multiple tapping or octopus connections. This building is already which is 103 years old.

Another 2 units of the building occupied by a bicycle shop, were also found with rusted steel frames and broken glass, deteriorated concrete moldings, dilapidated steel signage, and loose, tangled, and exposed wires and cables.

Defects in the John A. Tan building, which was constructed in 1958, included concrete cracks, exposed corroded rebars, deflection and vibration in a concrete slab on the second floor, deteriorated ceiling, piled stocks of supplies, loose and tangled wires, no entrance cap, broken circuit protections, and undersized feeder wires.

The S. Villanueva building has horizontal connection cracks, significant vertical cracks with concrete bulging, and rainwater leakage at the right side firewall coming from the inside gutter.

Gustilo said in her cover letter that the investigation’s results would lead to further actions that must be undertaken by the owners.

“The result of the structural investigation will serve as the reference for the recommendations on whether the building needs to be repaired, retrofitted, or demolished,” she said in her letter.


The OBO chief also discussed with the media the dangers of the defects observed from their assessments.

Without saying it directly, Gustilo implied that the crumbling building might pose threats to public safety, particularly to pedestrians passing by the areas.

“There were concrete columns with cracks, which are now major cracks, their steel bars as reinforcements now exposed and corroded, and in their major structural component beams, those are also showing cracks,” Gustilo explained.

“There were also water leaks, and once they are visible, that means that they have seeped in through and through. For example, if the beam has a water leakage, that’s already through and through, which is dangerous,” she added.

A total of 35 buildings were inspected by the OBO located in Iznart, Ledesma, Aldeguer, J.M. Basa, Arroyo, and Arsenal streets in the downtown central business area.

These visual assessments were conducted after reports by the media of broken glass falling from the windows of the Locsin-Coscuella Building earlier this month.