Quality control on hollow blocks, quake drills sought

DAVAO. Aftermath of the series of earthquakes that hit Mindanao in October 2019. (File Photo)

AMID the series of earthquakes that caused major damage to several structures in Mindanao, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered quality control measures on hollow blocks and other construction materials.

There was also a recommendation during the Cabinet meeting at Malacañang on Wednesday night, November 6, to conduct more earthquake drills to raise public awareness, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Thursday, November 7.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, in a statement, said President Rodrigo Duterte ordered that hollow blocks be included in the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) mandatory certification list to ensure that contractors comply with national quality standards.

"If they are found to be using inferior quality construction materials and not adhering to the specifications in the Building Code as well as in its structural design, their licenses as contractors may be revoked. Likewise, contractors of government projects that use uncertified materials will not be paid and their contracts will be terminated," Lopez said.

Lopez said the President surmised that small hollow block makers may not follow standard processes and specifications needed in production.

The DTI has tightened products’ certification and procedures.

Apart from the Philippine Standards (PS) accreditation of the manufacturing plant, products are also tested at the plant.

For imported steel or cement, these are tested at pre-shipment and post-shipment. Sampling size for testing was also increased by more than 15 times.

The DTI mandatory certification list currently covers only cement, steel, nails and glass, although the inclusion of glass is under court injunction.

The inclusion of more products such as plywood, roofing, and tiles is under study.

“The quality of any building structure depends not only on the product standards, but also on the quality of the construction job, particularly on adherence to approved structural design and the Building Code, required steel density, cement mixtures, among others,” Lopez said.

Meanwhile, Undersecretary Renato Solidum, officer-in-charge of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, briefed the President on the series of earthquakes in Mindanao, Panelo said in a separate statement.

“To raise awareness and prepare the public for similar disasters in the future, carrying out of more earthquake drills has been recommended,” the Palace official said.

A series of powerful quakes that jolted Mindanao this month claimed the lives of scores of individuals and caused major damage to several structures.

Panelo said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council chair Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad discussed the damage, casualties and government’s assistance to quake victims.

“The defense officials recommended the following: sustainment of relief operations, improvement of facilities used as evacuation centers, construction of temporary shelters, construction of permanent housing, repair and reconstruction of damaged schools, provision of livelihood and training assistance to families, provision of loan assistance, and conduct of post disaster needs assessment,” he said. (MVI/NASE/SunStar Philippines)


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