PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has signed an order regulating advertising signs and billboards to reduce traffic distractions and hazards, environmental damage and urban blight.

“There is a need to update and supplement the rules on nonmobile advertising signs and billboards under the Building Code and its implementing rules and regulations,” he said in Executive Order 165, citing the need to harmonize national and local rules and facilitate self-regulation by the ad industry.

Unregulated ad signs and billboards often cause harm due to their inappropriate location, glare, size, structural configuration and uncontrolled height limit, Mr. Duterte said.

Under the order signed on March 21, owners and operators of existing signs and billboards must comply with side and height limits within two years. Local governments are barred from imposing stricter requirements.

Newly built billboard structures must have at least five meters of setback from the front property line, measured perpendicularly up to the support structure.

Existing static billboards or LED billboards with a setback of fewer than five meters must comply with the guidelines for display size and height and relevant clearances prescribed by the Philippine Electrical Code.

Signs, billboards and structures must not exceed 250 square meters, while LED and other electronic signs must be at 55 to 250 square meters. These must conform to structural design and wind load exposure under the National Structural Code.

The height of freestanding billboard structures is limited to 36 meters as long as these don’t block any public utility and fire exits.

Meanwhile, the height of roof-mounted billboard structures must not exceed 26 meters in urban areas and 36 meters in rural areas.

New rooftop billboards must occupy more than a quarter of the street front of the building on which they are attached, with the base area of the support skeleton frame structure not more than 10 square meters on any horizontal section. These must be built using fireproof material.

Wall-mounted billboards must be placed against blank walls and must not exceed the area of the wall. New billboard structures at the same side of the road must be at least 100 meters apart.

The Department of Public Works and Highways will ensure the rules are enforced. It will also streamline and set up an online platform for billboard permits. A manual application system must also be maintained. 

The offices of the city or municipal building official will enforce the executive order.

Local governments, with the help of the Department of Interior and Local Government, must ensure signs and billboards don’t obstruct natural landscapes. They must also disallow billboards that offend aesthetic and cultural values and traditions.

They must also pass ordinances for restricted areas where ads and billboards may distract or obstruct the public view and cause a traffic hazard. Billboard-free zones must include historical sites, tourist destinations and parks, institutional establishments and critical facilities such as power plants.

Meanwhile, the Department of Finance will prepare guidelines for setting local fees and charges related to the application for locational clearances required for permit applications, provide training for local governments and help government offices comply with the law.

The Public Works department and other government agencies will provide the funds to enforce the order. Funding for subsequent years will be included in the yearly national budget. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan