• Group lauds House probe on steel bars


    The United Filipino Consumers and Commuters (UFCC) welcomed the move of the trade and industry committee of the House of Representative to set a probe on the alleged importation of substandard building materials.

    Rep. Ferjenel Biron of Iloilo, head of the panel, has asked Secretary Ramon Lopez of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to clarify “conflicting” tests and inspection findings on 20,000 metric tons of steel bars imported from China in December last year.

    “Timely. And we welcome the move. So that we can see and test the real standard of steel bars, so that the public is given protection. Another is the tariff issue, whether it is correct or not needs to be determined, whether or not DTI is liable for issuing documents stating the value is correct. And how or why the steel were released,” UFCC President Rodolfo Javellana Jr. told The Manila Times in reaction to the move of the House panel.

    According to Biron, he asked the DTI in a February 14 letter to “submit to the committee on trade and industry of the House of Representatives a comprehensive report thereon within 15 days from receipt hereof.”

    “In particular, the committee wishes to verify the status of the subject import commodity clearance (ICC), given separate inspection reports thereon by the DTI’s central office vis-a-vis DTI Region 3,” the lawmaker said.

    “The committee is keenly interested on the matter in the interest and protection of the Filipino consumers,” he added.

    Javellana earlier called on the lower chamber to probe the importation of alleged substandard building materials.

    The UFFC’s call was in response to the importation of 20,000 metric tons of steel bars from China at the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority Port.

    “However, last Dec. 8, 2016, its import commodity clearance was recalled/withdrawn by the very government agency that issued it, the Department of Trade and Industry’s Bureau of Philippine Standards, to make sure the cargo is compliant with law on its traceability, quality and safety,” UFCC’s letter to Biron dated January 31 said.

    “But as of Dec. 19, truckloads of the shipment were illegally withdrawn/sold to the market,” the group alleged. REINA TOLENTINO



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