The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is adding more products for mandatory certification to make sure substandard construction materials are out will not endanger people’s lives.
Ramon Lopez, secretary of the DTI, has specifically committed to investigate the presence of substandard steel as well as hollow blocks in the market in response to House Resolution 379 that called for an investigation on the alleged proliferation of substandard steel and cement products following the damage left in the wake of the recent earthquakes in Mindanao.
“We welcome this call and shall fully cooperate and support the investigation to be conducted in order to ensure that the public will not be harmed by substandard construction materials,” Lopez said
“We are including more products in the list of mandatory compliance and have even increased the sample size of products to be tested. We are adding more products in the mandatory compliance since many of them were released from the list. And since they are not subjected to mandatory testing, substandard products can come in,” he said.
For regulated steel products, such as rebars and angle bars, DTI has placed stricter standards and intensified monitoring and enforcement for both imported and locally-manufactured products.
Some of these new guidelines include increasing the sample size for product testing, checking the Philippine Standard mark (PS) and standards of local manufacturing plants, and inspections at different stages of transport, such as pre-shipment, post-shipment, and audit in retail.
“We heightened the campaign against substandard products because it is not safe for consumers and unfair to local manufacturers who will face cheap competition. This, in turn, may shrink the country’s manufacturing base and lead to job losses. Clearly, smuggling substandard steel is detrimental to the mission of the agency,” he added.
This comes on the heels of President Duterte’s order the inclusion of hollow blocks in the list of products with mandatory certification as these are not yet included in the certification schemes implemented by DTI-Bureau of Philippine Standards.
Duterte during the recent Cabinet meeting raised concern over the quality of hollow blocks, noting many small hollow block makers may not follow standard processes and specifications needed in production.
Currently, consultation processes are ongoing with regard to the draft technical regulations for plywood, ceramic tiles, roofing, and BI/GI pipes.
Technical regulations for all glass products have been issued but are yet to be implemented due to the writs of injunction separately issued by the Makati and Pasay regional trial courts.
“In the pipeline are the technical regulations for all hollow block products. Draft technical regulations will be prepared, and stakeholders’ consultations will be conducted within the month,” he added.
Regarding regulated steel products, such as rebars and angle bars, DTI-BPS has initiated a review of its technical regulations since 2016. Since then, the agency has issued one Department administrative order and two memoranda circulars implementing stricter technical regulations for steel products.
Lopez said at the recent Cabinet meeting President Duterte ordered all local government units (LGUs) and contractors to ensure that all construction materials being used in any construction activity must pass quality standards. If they are found to be using inferior quality construction materials and not adhering to the specifications in the Building Code as well as in its structural design, their licenses as contractors may be revoked. Likewise, contractors of government projects that use uncertified materials will not be paid and their contracts will be terminated.
Meanwhile Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) chairman Jesus Lim Arranza said mandatory certification for steel rebars, cement, flat glass, among other construction materials, protects the consumers for events like this.
Arranza said while local manufacturers of steel rebars for example are all mandated to undergo stringent testing for every 20 tons of production to determine its compliance with the required mandatory standards, imported steel rebars were not similarly tested.