In a statement, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the agency would investigate the presence of substandard steel in the market.
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DTI vows to conduct probe on substandard steel
Louella Desiderio, Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - November 11, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has vowed to investigate substandard steel products in the market amid a call from the House of Representatives following earthquakes which recently hit Mindanao.

In a statement, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the agency would investigate the presence of substandard steel in the market.

His statement comes following House Resolution 379 filed by Agusan Del Norte Rep. Lawrence Fortun, seeking to investigate alleged smuggling and proliferation of substandard steel.

The lawmaker has called for an investigation citing damage to structures may not be a result of just earthquakes which struck the country, but also by the use of substandard products like steel.

“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.

He said the DTI has been tightening rules on standard compliance of products to promote safety.

For regulated steel products like rebars and angle bars, the DTI has placed stricter standards and stepped up monitoring and enforcement activities for both imported and locally manufactured products.

In particular, new guidelines include increasing the sample size for product testing, checking the Philippine Standard (PS) mark and standards of local manufacturing plants, as well as inspections at different stages of transport, such as pre-shipment, post-shipment, and audit in retail.

With intensified monitoring and enforcement activities for steel products, the DTI-Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau has so far, issued 61 notices of violation against erring establishments found distributing non-conforming steel products this year.

The DTI-Bureau of Philippine Standards (BPS) has also strengthened factory surveillance activities and formed composite teams for surprise factory surveillance audits.

Within the last two months, DTI-BPS conducted 14 factory visits involving 19 PS licenses for steel products and during these visits, samples were randomly drawn and submitted to the Metal Industry Research and Development Center testing laboratory for independent testing.

Following the factory visits and testing of samples, the DTI-BPS has suspended two PS licenses of factories found producing non-conforming steel products and destroyed 57,250 pieces of non-conforming steel bars estimated to be worth P6.5 million.

So far, the team has conducted 52 factory surveillance audits and eight more factories are due for surveillance and/or surprise audits within the year.

RAMON LOPEZ
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