Glass
EYES WIDE OPEN - Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - September 12, 2019 - 12:00am

(Part two)

After I raised the question about the safety of glass ceilings, facades and other glass products last week, I got an answer from no less than Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

The good secretary assured me that he is bent on enforcing all the necessary quality and safety regulations on glass products. Thank you Sec. Mon.

He said customized glass products shall go through quality check  whether these are imported or local products. Customized glass products are those breathtaking glass ceilings and facades we see in skyscrapers and posh buildings.

What’s the fuss?

I wrote about this issue last week because local glass producers and glass importers are at loggerheads over safety regulations issued by the Department of Trade and Industry. Importers were able to get a court injunction against the newly issued safety standards.

Sec. Mon said the DTI is reviewing the new standards to hear all sides of the story.

“The DTI is reviewing the Department Administrative Order (DAO) 19-05 as part of its continuing commitment to due process and transparency, not as an offshoot of the court-issued injunction. Before and after the DAO took effect, the DTI has been receiving comments, requests, and suggestions on how to further improve the technical regulations,” he said.

He also said the DTI would not limit the scope of the DTI order to “standard” flat glass and exclude “customized” glass sourced abroad.

“The scope of the order shall remain the same and will continue to cover all glass products – flat, tempered, laminated, laminated safety and bent glass – manufactured locally or abroad,” he said.

However, Lopez said that considering the situation of façade contractors wherein they import glass for specific projects and based on certain glass specifications prescribed by building designers and engineers, the DTI is looking at the possibility of exempting contractors from the per-shipment critical testing requirements.

This would be subject to certain conditions such that product inspection and verification shall still be conducted on-site and that the product would be recalled if the tests show that they do not meet the safety standards.

Lopez said that for customized glass products, the DTI is aware that most project developers have their own structural and design engineers in-charge of ensuring quality standards of glass products.

But as a precautionary measure, the DTI shall still require verification and validation on-site.

“This is to ensure that the imported products are indeed tested and verified to see if they conform to standards prior to use,” Sec. Mon said.

It’s good to know indeed that while the DTI is open to amending some provisions of the administrative order, Sec. Mon is bent on enforcing glass quality and safety standards.

This is an important subject not because I like industry issues and corporate squabbles, but because at the end of the day, substandard glass can affect all of us – whether we’re working inside a glass-covered skyscraper or just passing through.

Illicit traders face stiffer penalties

Speaking of industry issues, illicit traders of cigarettes and alcohol now face new penalties for their misdeeds under the newly signed Republic Act 11346 or the law that increases excise tax on tobacco products.

According to provisions of the law signed last July, anyone caught selling sin products under false names or brands, or a cheap imitation of the original will be fined up to P15 million with an imprisonment of up to 12 years.

Under the law, mere possession of untaxed alcohol and cigarettes will be subject to fine and jail time that gets more severe as the appraised value also goes up, especially when the contraband is imported.

Everyone involved will be held accountable.

Furthermore, those caught selling, possessing or recycling the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s tax stamps will be meted an imprisonment of up to 15 years and a P50 million penalty.

Those with machines or apparatus used to produce illicit cigarette and alcohol will also be slapped with a fine of P50 million and an imprisonment of up to 20 years.

These are good provisions really.

The real test, however, lies in the implementation. I hope authorities will have the political will to implement the law. There should be no sacred cows – whether they’re smugglers caught selling fake cigarettes or the cigarette companies themselves that do not pay the higher taxes.

Iris Gonzales’ email address is eyesgonzales@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @eyesgonzales. Column archives at eyesgonzales.com

EXCISE TAX GLASS PRODUCTS TOBACCO
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