Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez has committed to investigate the alleged proliferation of substandard steel and cement products amid 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,” he said in a statement, referring to House Resolution 379 that urged for such probe.
Under the Duterte administration, the trade chief said the DTI has made stricter rules on standard compliance.
Lopez said his department is adding more products for mandatory certification to make sure that the substandard construction materials will not endanger people’s lives.
“We are including more products in the list of mandatory compliance and have even increased the sample size of products to be tested,” he added.
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 (PS) mark and standards of local manufacturing plants, and inspections at different stages of transport, such as pre-shipment, post-shipment, and audit in retail.
An article in the Manila Times published on November 5 said the resolution’s authors “wanted to get to the bottom of the alleged collusion between large steelmakers and some corrupt officials of the DTI and Bureau of Customs.”
Lopez said while the allegations run counter to the agency’s goal to protect consumers and strengthen local manufacturing industries, DTI shall intensify the drive to continue the investigation to ensure that there is no corruption in the system.
He also would encourage third-party investigations, such as those led by the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC).
“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. (PR)