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DTI to look into claims of substandard steel entering local market

/ 04:11 AM November 11, 2019

Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said he would investigate allegations of substandard steel entering the Philippine market as the destructive aftermath of recent earthquakes in Mindanao led lawmakers to start pointing fingers.

Lopez was responding to a resolution calling for an inquiry on the industry after lawmakers claimed that steel manufacturers colluded with employees in the Department of Trade and Industry and Bureau of Customs to pave the way for the entry of substandard steel.

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“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 in a statement.

At the same time, the DTI said that the agency has stricter rules on standard compliance for steel products.

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Likewise, the DTI-Bureau of Philippine Standards (BPS) has intensified its factory surveillance activities and created composite teams conducting surprise factory surveillance audits.

In the last two months, DTI-BPS has conducted 14 factory visits involving 19 Product Standard (PS) licenses for steel products. During these visits, samples were randomly drawn and submitted to the Metal Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC) testing laboratory for independent testing.

As a result, DTI-BPS has suspended two PS licenses of factories found producing non-conforming steel products. A total of 57,250 pieces of non-conforming steel bars with an estimated value of P6.5 million were destroyed.

In total, the team conducted 52 factory surveillance audits with eight more factories due for surveillance or surprise audits within the year.

Agusan del Norte Rep. Lawrence Fortun filed House Resolution 379 calling for the inquiry. The official website of the House of Representatives showed that it was still pending at the committee on rules since September, but the resolution resurfaced in the media after the recent earthquakes. —ROY STEPHEN C. CANIVEL

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