By BERNIE CAHILES-MAGKILAT
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has intensified its monitoring and tracing of substandard construction materials particularly steel, cement and concrete even as it sternly warned manufacturers, distributors and retailers of the full force of the law for any violation.
Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez likened the selling of substandard products to selling illegal drugs because both activities endanger the lives of Filipinos.
The trade secretary made this remark during the recent joint press conference with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). The press conference tackled the DILG-DTI-DPWH Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 2019-01 on ensuring safe, adaptive, and disaster resilient communities.
He said additional inspections for local steel manufacturers are being conducted. As such, DTI is collaborating with DILG and the PNP in conducting surprise inspections on suppliers, wholesalers, and retailers of construction materials.
“We would have to trace the sources, the distributors, warehouses, as well as the source of the manufacturers. To guarantee that substandard materials are kept out of the market, those who fail to comply with requirements can face payment of penalties, revocation of permits, and possible imprisonment,” said Lopez.
The JMC aims to prepare the Greater Metro Manila Area (GMMA) for the potential devastation in the event of “The Big One”—or a magnitude-7.2 earthquake resulting from the movement of the West Valley Fault.
According to Philvolcs OIC for Earthquake and Earthquake Hazards Ishmael Narag, The Big One can potentially kill more than 48,000 people and around 24,000 more in the GMMA.
Under the circular, all local governments are ordered to assess the structural integrity of all public and private buildings, facilities if they conform to the National Building Code of the Philippines.
For his part, Lopez assured that the Bureau of Philippine Standards imposes compliance to the Philippine National Standards, which is aligned with international counterparts. The standards for critical construction materials such as steel, cement, and concrete have also been developed and reviewed periodically.
“We even made the procedures stricter in testing standard compliance. For example, we have adjusted the sampling. Before, we only test three pieces no matter how large the imported steel shipment. Now, we are conforming to ISO’s ideal sample size: 50 pieces for 20,000 MT,” said Lopez.
Aside from product standards, DTI is also coordinating with food manufacturers, retailers, and distributors to coordinate food supply and delivery to the GMMA in case of earthquakes and other disasters.
“We asked the food manufacturers and retailers for their committed supply and designated areas for delivery in case of natural disasters in the GMMA. This arrangement will just be triggered and run automatically. Some of these will be donated and the others will be paid by the government. We currently have technical working groups finalizing this arrangement,” said Lopez.