The Department of Trade and Industry has started seizing substandard steel products from hardware stores while the Philippine Iron and Steel Institute (PISI) intensify its test-buy operations in suspected hotspots of substandard products.
The strengthened drive versus substandard steel follows the flooding of substandard rebars, angle bars and unmarked and unregistered bars.
PISI has been deploying test-buy teams the past several months and sending the suspect sample products to the DTI which then sends them to a government laboratory, the Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC), for analysis.
Ronald Magsajo, PISI president, said.
MIRDC has found several samples from test-buy operations falling short of product standards in terms of weight and size. Other products were found to have unregistered marks or were unmarked which would make their source or producer difficult to trace.
“The pandemic has made people price-sensitive and some unscrupulous manufacturers have been taking advantage of this,” Magsajo said.
Last month, DTI’s La Union provincial office confiscated the inferior products.
“We will deploy more teams to more areas because we believe that we have just scratched the surface of this problem. These products are either smuggled but largely locally made from factories that have been cropping up using the induction furnace (IF) technology China banned in 2017 for being a major source of smog in Beijing and its surrounding areas”, he said.
The China ban mothballed about 140 million metric tons of IF capacity and this obsolete but cheap technology has been finding its way to Southeast Asian nations including the Philippines.
Magsajo said four years ago, there were only about 5 IF factories in the country with a capacity of 200,000 metric tons. With the China ban, the IF factories here rose to 13 with a capacity of more than one million metric tons and “this growing trend must be stopped to protect the public and the environment.