Last May 23, Real Estate Service Practitioners (RESP) converged in The Bayleaf Intramuros hotel to discuss as a consultative body to tackle the Code of Ethics and Responsibilities for RESPs. This was organized by the Professional Regulatory Board for Real Estate Service and Philippine Institute of Real Estate Practitioners Inc. (PhilRES) and sponsored by the LAMP2 Project and DOF-Bureau of Local Government Finance.
Pursuant to Section 5 (f), Article II and Section 35, Article IV of R.A. No.9646, otherwise known as Real Estate Service Act of the Philippines, the PRBRES subject to the approval by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) adopts and promulgates the National Code of Ethics and Responsibilities for Real Estate Service Practice.
In the code’s preamble, it states that the Real Estate Service Practice as an honorable profession and a calling to strive for excellence with the vital role in the social, political, economic development and progress of the country by promoting the real estate industry and stimulating economic activity, shall be developed and nurtured into a corps of technically competent, responsible and respected professionals, whose standards of practice shall be globally competitive. As such, real estate service practitioners are bound by a code of conduct, morals, and values in the performance of their duties and responsibilities to the public, their client, the government, fellow practitioners, and associations.
Therefore, it is essential, imperative and necessary to adopt this NATIONAL CODE OF ETHICS AND RESPONSIBILITIES FOR THE REAL ESTATE SERVICE PRACTITIONERS that will govern their rule of conduct.
Its scope and purview is that the Real Estate Service Practice shall embrace and include all natural persons who are performing any act of engaging in the practice of real estate service as defined in Republic Act No. 9646 namely, real estate consultant, appraiser, assessor, broker, and salesperson hereinafter referred to as the RESPs.
Under its general provisions and declaration of principles, it defines Real Estate Service Practice is a noble profession, calling or occupation and thus, RESPs shall abide and commit to the laws, standards, decrees, orders and rules and regulations enacted or promulgated by duly constituted government authorities.
RESPs are required to perform their duties and responsibilities with utmost integrity, responsibility, fidelity, sincerity, respect and courtesy for colleagues in the profession with a behavior proper to a professional.
They shall adhere to the strict compliance of the National Code of Ethics and Responsibilities with honesty, good moral conduct and strong sense of values and shall observe at all times objective moral standards in the practice of real estate service with good governance in relation with his/her client(s) and the community and in service to the nation and Filipino people.
To be able to acquire competence and expertise in real estate service, RESPs are required to have adequate education, value formation, and knowledge. RESPs shall maintain a professional character and personality by upholding the generally accepted standards of the practice.
As a family of RESPs, the spirit of unity, harmony, camaraderie, cooperation and professional relationship among the practitioners is essential, and shall be promoted under the principle of solidarity.
And most of all, RESPs should apply in their profession the Golden Rule, “Do unto other as you would have them do unto vou.” This rule shall be observed in all the dealings and relation of the RESPs with clients, fellow practitioners, the organizations to which they belong, and the public.
RESPs responsibility to the Government are to secure all the necessary licenses, permits and authority and to comply with all the requirements relative to the practice of real estate service and to pay any and all professional fees and taxes that are required by law in the practice of real estate. They should not encourage, tolerate or participate in the evasion or illegal reduction in the payment of all taxes, fees or charges that is due to the government.
To the Public, RESPs shall be imbued with a social responsibility and conscience being part of society with duties and responsibilities for the promotion of the common good. They shall cooperate with the government in protecting the public against deceit, misrepresentation, unfair, relevant information and other related unethical and immoral practices and malpractices of unlicensed and unauthorized real estate service practitioners.
RESPs shall protect and promote with prudence, integrity, loyalty, fidelity and good faith the interest of their clients without sacrificing the legitimate interest of the other party in the transaction which shall not be contrary to the law, good morals and public interest.
RESPs shall not accept any professional fee or valuable consideration from any party of the real estate transactions except from his/her client unless with the full knowledge and consent of all the parties.
They shall charge or collect standard professional fees which are fair and reasonable in accordance with real estate industry practice in similar transactions but not lower than the agreed minimum professional fee as recommended by the accredited and integrated professional organization based on the existing standards of real estate service practice.
RESPs responsibilities to Fellow Practitioners include not using any vital documents relative the professional conduct without written consent by the other Practitioner; coordinating with other fellow practitioners and agree their respective reasonable professional fees in accordance with the Tariff of Professional Fees prescribe by the accredited and integrated Professional Organization (IIAPO); not using or soliciting the services of the employee of another practitioner without the written consent by the latter; not engaging in slander, oral defamation, gossip, or criticize publicly a fellow practitioner and/or competitor nor volunteer a negative and damaging opinions of a competitor and/or fellow practitioner in any means; not seeking unjust and unfair advantage over his/her fellow practitioners by organizing or sowing discord, spreading and bad mouthing against other practitioners particularly officers and members of their association or IAPO or even other associations; willing to share, contribute, write and publish articles for the benefit of fellow practitioners and for the good of the real estate industry by imparting knowledge, technical training, experiences, studies or research without prejudice to classified or confidential information from client; conducting ethical and professional practice with honor, dignity and integrity to avoid any controversies with fellow practitioners.
RESPs responsibilities to IAPO include abiding the articles of incorporation and by-laws of the accredited and integrated IAPO pursuant to with Section 34 of R.A. 9646; swearing under oath to support the IAPO financially and morally and shall actively participate in the programs and activities for the benefit and welfare of the general membership and the real estate industry; and strictly observing and complying the IAPO’s approved Code of Ethics and Responsibilities.
In the event of controversy between members of the accredited and integrated professional organization (IAPO), such shall be submitted for arbitration to the IAPO whose decision shall be binding, if accepted by both parties. However, if the IAPO arbitration body cannot settle the controversy, the Commission through the PRBRES shall assume jurisdiction over the said controversy in accordance with Section 5 paragraph (c) & (g) of RA 9646 and its implementing rules and regulations. All forms of complaint shall be substantiated with pertinent facts and documents as required by law in compliance of due process. RESPs shall first exhaust all possible administrative remedies available in the IAPO with discretion in compliance with due process available.
After Mr. Ramon Cuervo, PRC-PRBRES Board Member, explained the Code of Ethics and Responsibilities, the consultation began. Most of the RESPs suggested some corrections and word replacements on the code.
Ms. Ching of BLGF asked about the morality of the practitioners, something that is relative like Muslim assessors. Mr. Cuervo said that the code states that there’s no prejudice to any belief, religion, creed, race or people. However, all humankind is subjected to certain laws of morality. These are objective laws, not subjective laws.
She also asked on what to do about members convicted of multiple turpitudes and how to deal with them in the Code of Ethics and Responsibilities. Mr. Cuervo answered that sanctions are stated in the RESA Law. As stated, in the Rule V, Sec. 39 of the IRR, Penal Provisions have to follow due process and that the PRC Legal Department is in charge of handling the cases in coordination with the PRC-PRBRES. Sanctions need to be mentioned but not the specifics.
Atty. Nelson Arquiza of PAREB proposed a suggestion on the Sec. 5 of the Code that a paragraph be placed showing AIPO should not conduct activities that would be in conflict with practitioners and associations as they are in aid of regulatory functions of PRBRES such as competition issues, engagement in financial activities, etc. Mr. Cuervo said that the Code is addressing rules to persons and that if there are issues on relationship of AIPO, associations and practitioners, these will be addressed.
He also said that practitioners and associations be allowed to do their jobs and the AIPO should not lord it over these bodies. For example, local government units are independent but they are also responsible to the national government.
REBAP’s Ms. De Guzman suggested that it would be too much to go down to the details of fees. REBAP has its code of ethics for its brokers and salespersons and professionals have to have its own code to be attached as annex to the national code. Mr. Cuervo said that general code is concise, but each group or association is free to make its own rules with reference to their members.
Mr. Cuervo ended the consultation saying that the Board is constituted by practitioners so they are therefore covered also by the code of ethics and the RESA Law.