By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) suspended the Philippine Standard (PS) licenses of six steel manufacturers in 2019 for failing the independent testing commissioned by the DTI-Bureau of Philippine Standards (BPS) from the Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC).
The DTI issued this statement to contradict a statement made by a product standards and quality group that government has failed to take action against retailers and manufacturers of substandard steel.
These steel manufacturers include Maxima Steel Mills Corp., Henro Steel Corp., Steel Asia Manufacturing Corp. – Meycauayan Bulacan Plant, Cathay Metal Corp., Somico Steel Mill Corporation, and Sagarthama Steel Trading Corporation.
Maxima Steel Mills Corp. was suspended for deformed steel bar and equal leg angle bar while Henro Steel Corp. for rerolled steel bar.
The Meycauayan Bulacan Plant of Steel Asia Manufacturing Corp. was also suspended for deformed steel bar.
Steel Asia, the country’s largest rebar manufacturer said in a statement that this situation happened only in its Meycauayan Mill 2 and for sizes 10mm and 12mm, Grade 230 rebars only.
“Corrective measures were immediately put in place and the affected rebar lot destroyed.
We are confident that our Meycauayan Mill 2 will be declared fully compliant by the Bureau of Product Standards shortly,” said Steel Asia.
Cathay Metal Corp. was suspended for equal leg angle bar; Somico Steel Mill Corporation for rerolled steel bar and Sagarthama Steel Trading Corporation also for deformed Steel Bar.
The suspension order resulted from unannounced surveillance audits conducted by the BPS in 2019 on various steel manufacturing plants in the country. Samples culled from these audits that were subjected to testing by the MIRDC proved that these six steel manufacturers were not compliant with the standards indicated in Philippine National Standard (PNS) 49, Series of 2002. Until these steel manufacturers comply with the PNS, their PS licenses will remain suspended.
In addition to this, the BPS denied the issuance of Import Commodity Clearances (ICC) for deformed steel bars and equal leg angle bars imported by Megawide Construction Corporation, Petron Corporation, and Remington Industrial Sales Corporation, approximately valued at over sixty-eight million pesos (P68,000,000).
The deformed steel bars imported by Megawide Construction Corporation were denied issuance of ICC due to non-compliance with PNS 49:2002 while those imported by Petron Corporation had no proper markings. Remington Industrial Sales Corporation, on the other hand, has no valid PS license for the importation of equal leg angle bars. All these imported steel bars were either destroyed or exported to their country of origin.
It can also be recalled that in September 2019, Wan Chiong Steel Corp. was found to be manufacturing deformed steel bars that are not covered by the scope of their PS license. After due process and filing of formal charge, the DTI-Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (FTEB) issued a decision last November 2019 for said steel manufacturing company to pay administrative penalty amounting to P450,000.00. Earlier, the same steel manufacturer was suspended for five (5) months for non-compliance with PNS 49.
Similarly, Dragon Asia Rolling Mills was also found to be manufacturing steel that are not covered by the scope of their PS license. Formal charge against the company has been filed by the FTEB and the case is now up for decision.
“For the whole of 2019, the DTI penalized a total of 42 retailers and manufacturers of steel — a clear contrast to the claim of a product safety and quality group that the Department failed to charge violating steel manufacturers and traders for substandard steel products. The DTI stops at nothing in tracking down unscrupulous businesses and ensuring that violators are dealt with to the highest and fullest extent of the law. The protection of consumers is our utmost priority and we remain steadfast in our commitment,” said DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez.