By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) yesterday said it heightens its visibility in the market through intensified monitoring and enforcement efforts to ensure product quality and consumer safety especially on construction materials such as cement, steel bars, angle bars, uPVC pipes, and sanitary wares.
The DTI issued this statement following the damage caused on buildings and structures by the 6.1 intensity earthquake that hit Metro Manila and some parts of Luzon Monday night.
According to DTI, the Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (FTEB) from January to April this year confiscated and sealed a total 35,112 pieces of steel bars, equal-leg angle bars, uPVC pipes, G.I. wires, and electrical cords valued at over P7 million pesos.
The FTEB also monitored 1,173 firms and served a total of 138 Notices of Violation (NOVs). Out of these NOVs, 118 were filed with administrative cases.
In the event that establishments receive NOVs twice, the violating firms will face criminal charges. Their licenses and permits to operate will also be revoked.
In recent monitoring, DTI said that FTEB found all cement products sold in monitored establishments to be conforming to the standards and proper markings set forth by the Bureau of Philippine Standards (BPS).
“DTI’s heightened presence in the market sends a strong message to both consumers and business that we are serious in our campaign against uncertified and substandard materials. Finding no non-conforming products such as cement and steel in the establishments that we monitor means that quality goods are being sold to the public. The protection of consumers is our utmost priority and we remain steadfast in our commitment,” said Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez.
Earlier, the DTI announced that it is shifting its Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) sticker verification to a mobile application to assist enforcers and monitors during market enforcement activities, as well as consumers in verifying a certified product and detect fake from real ICC and Philippine Standard (PS) stickers.
The DTI will likewise begin to accredit hardware stores that sell quality and good products. The list of compliant and non-compliant hardware stores will be made available to the public.
In view of a whole of government approach, the DTI officials led by Lopez discussed with Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año the arrangements that will allow local government units’ participation in monitoring substandard products in the market as well as in enforcing penalties against establishments selling non-compliant products.
As to the warning by a certain consumer group on the alleged proliferation of substandard imported cement from Vietnam, DTI-Consumer Protection Group Undersecretary Atty. Ruth B. Castelo clarified that, “Even in the absence of such warning, the Department remains vigilant and on top of matters pertaining to the quality of products. DTI’s intensified monitoring and enforcement efforts definitely include going after unscrupulous importers, traders, and retailers that intentionally disregard the mandatory product certification scheme of the BPS.”