Steel group raises alarm over alleged smuggling at Subic
A local steel group has raised grave concerns over possible smuggling at the Subic port concerning P95 million worth of steel bars (rebars).
“The first issue here is safety … We are questioning the legality of the steel imports due to safety because we had a bad experience in Bohol and Cebu wherein some of the structures found to be built using substandard steel had collapsed,” said Roberto M. Cola, president of the Philippine Iron and Steel Institute (Pisi).
In a briefing Monday, Cola said the group wanted to verify the legitimacy of the “provisional” import commodity clearance issued by the Department of Trade and Industry, and of the supposed tests done for a sample of the 5,000 tons (or 500,000 pieces) that Mannage Resources Trading Corp. is importing.
The group likewise questioned the capacity of Mannage Resources, which was incorporated only last year, to import the P95 million worth of steel products given its P400,000-capitalization. This was also the first time that Mannage Resources, a company engaged in the food business, has imported steel rebars.
According to Pisi officials, the group wanted the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to seize these rebars and for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to conduct a new round of product tests, during which representatives from the steel industry will be present to ensure compliance with standards.
Cola noted a similar case in 2006 that involved the smuggling of 3,000 tons of steel products. These steel imports were seized but the criminal case slapped against the importers remained pending in court.
As of end last year, the Philippine steel industry recorded a stellar 20 percent growth in sales volume at 8.8 million tons. This year, the group expects a more conservative increase of 7 to 8 percent given the continued public and private spending. Amy R. Remo