July 19, 2018, 4:05 am
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DTI strengthens certification process of cement, steel

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will come out with new department administrative orders (DAO) that would strengthen the certification process of cement and steel products, according to Teodoro Pascua, DTI undersecretary.

Pascua in a text message said the procedures would to be refined “to assure consumer protection, adequate supply and reasonable prices.”

 DTI sources said this would also an opportunity for the DTI to address  of concerns on the presence of substandard products in the market.

The DTI has asked the cement and steel industries to submit on comments until August 18 on the new DAO after meeting their stakeholders separately on Friday.

The DTI has also come under fire for a recent DAO which exempts from testing cement products that are imported by companies with cement plants in the country.

One of the sources said under the draft DAO, there would be no more distinction between manufacturers and importers on the process but that the DTI will allow pre-shipment and the drawing of samples for verification testing.

On Friday, manufacturers, importers and representatives of industry associations of cement and steel products, as well as professional organizations, laboratories ad test institutions consumer and academic organizations and relevant government agencies were called for meetings by the DTI Consumer Protection Group to address those concerns.

Ramon Lopez, DTI secretary, in a text message , said the agency is reviewing the import procedures on steel products following a complaint from the Philippine Iron and Steel Institute whose market surveillance and random sampling in quake-stricken areas yielded undersized and un-tested steel products.

Roberto Cola, president of PISI, said the industry’s comments are still for discussions tomorrow, August 15.

In a letter dated July 28, 2017 to DTI Undersecretary Teodoro Pascua, Cola said a technical team from the group conducted inspection of structures and market test buys in areas affected by the July 19 6.5-magnitude earthquake in Leyte.

The PISI in a report said in Kananga town, a badly-damaged three-storey commercial and residential building and a collapsed house bore uncertified slabs and rebars.

Random test buys from several hardwares in Leyte also bore 9-millimeter diameter rebars, which are not listed in the Philippine National Standards (PNS) and therefore are not subject to tests.

The PISI said not only are these uncertified due to the absence of manufacture’s logo, these were also undersized. 

“PISI strongly recommends that DTI immediately launch a regular market monitoring/standards enforcement in Leyte and Samar as the rebuilding activities are now starting in these earthquake-affected areas,” Cola said in his letter. 

PISI clarified that its investigation only focused on the “construction materials quality” factor which provides that materials used in the construction must comply with PNS specifications. The group also focused on rebars, since this is a product that is either produced by its member companies or imported by traders that covered by PNS mandatory standards. 

“The uncertified products that were found in the damaged structures and in the market were most likely imported and did not follow the Import Commodity Clearance procedures of the DTI,” the PISI said in the report.

It noted that these rebars passed through the Bureau of Customs without being inspected and tested. 

“Considering that these earthquake-damaged areas will now start rebuilding, it is necessary to remove these dangerous rebars from the market. This can be done through a massive market monitoring and standards enforcement form DTI,” PISI added.

The group urged both DTI and BOC to come up with a campaign to prevent additional or new batches of uncertified imported rebars to slip from the country’s ports of entry. 

Consumer group Laban Konsyumer Inc. (LKI) meanwhile challenged the DTI to get samples on of cement and get them tested in a neutral laboratory amid claims of the presence of substandard cement from Vietnam.

LKI founder Vic Dimagiba said government and industry stakeholders “should walk the talk” and verify the quality of the cement products that come into the country.

Dimagiba said the samples should be obtained from all alleged sources: cement labelled in the name of a local manufacturer but imported from a supplier in Vietnam and a foreign label and imported from the same supplier in Vietnam.

Samples should be tested in both the Philippines and one in Vietnam which are duly accredited by regional.or international recognition agreements.
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