AT LEAST two repair shops were issued notices for failing to obtain accreditation certificates from the Department of Trade and Industry – Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (DTI-FTEB) during a three-day enforcement operation in Baguio City, Benguet and Ifugao from April 3 to 5.
Three teams from the FTEB were joined by personnel from the DTI-CAR Consumer Protection Divisions and inspected 29 firms, mostly selling products covered by mandatory certification.
The team revealed 16 firms were found to be in violation of the Philippine Standards Law (Republic Act 4109) and its implementing rules and regulations.
All firms found to have violated trade laws were issued a Notice of Violation, which requires them to appear before the FTEB within 48 hours, with documents to prove that the products they were selling were compliant with the Standards Laws’ requirements.
Most violations involved the selling of steel bars and angle bars, while several were cited for other product-related violations.
All products that were sealed and prohibited for sale had a market value of almost P3.1 million.
DTI-FTEB will conduct all administrative proceedings arising out of the enforcement. Retailers can expect to pay fines starting at P25,000 for each violation committed after the Philippine Iron and Steel Institute (PISI) warned on dangers of substandard steel in Cordillera markets.
“Substandard steel make buildings weak hence dangerous to the public during earthquakes and typhoons,” Roberto Cola, president of PISI, said.
PISI said dangers of substandard steel was seen in Cebu and Bohol earthquakes and in Leyte during Typhoon Yolanda “when the most damaged houses were found to have used substandard steel.”
PISI recommended to the Department of Trade and Industry to file charges against hardware stores selling fake steel after a spot check in Baguio City, Benguet, Mountain Province and Ifugao hard ware stores where the sale of substandard concrete reinforcing steel bars (rebars) were found.
DTI conducts enforcement activities to ensure that only products that have passed the product certification requirements are available in the market.
Apart from looking for the requisite markings, the agency’s representatives conducted weighing, length and diameter measurements to establish prima facie evidence of violations. It also commits to provide consumers with information relative to products that are covered by mandatory Philippine National Standards.
Cola aid steel testing is done through tensile and bending tests from a government recognized 3rd party testing laboratory like with international certification.
Cola advised consumers and traders to buy steel from a reliable, reputable or ISO certified manufacturer/supplier.
“Do not buy rebars made from billets produced by Induction Furnaces since their quality is not consistent. We could only determine that a steel is of good quality once subjected to testing,” Cola added.
PISI also recommended the DTI to form a DTI-Consumer Protection Group or Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau conduct a nationwide market monitoring and standards enforcement campaign; monitoring teams conduct an actual weighing and measure of bars to determine conformance to PNS 49:2002 and PNS 211:2002, in addition to checking of logos and markings.
The PISI in a report showed market monitoring was conducted in 12 hardware stores confirmed with the Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC) that the rebars were substandard. (With a report from DTI Cordillera)