Trade dept. to spend P10M in SUA probe

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This is the brave and confident statement of Adrian Cristobal, the new secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), despite having only six months as head of the agency.

A big issue that came up before his appointment is whether complaints on sudden unintended acceleration have basis and if there is a need to make Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. answerable to damages from accidents caused allegedly by the SUA.

Cristobal, who believes that Philippines should be exporting cars by 2020, has given the agency’s Consumer Protection Group under Victorio Mario Dimagiba until the end of February to submit recommendations.

“There is no country in the world that has 100 million population that has no auto industry,” he told Bulong Pulungan at Sofitel Plaza on Tuesday in Pasay City, an urban neighboring city of Manila.

Dimagiba said his group is getting an independent third party to test the allegations or to find out if there is defect in the Mitsubishi Sports models released from 2010 to 2015.

Although the government is not at fault, according to him, the DTI is spending from P10 million to P15 million just for hiring an independent third party to do the tests.

“We are sending the units to an independent and credible firm either in Germany, Singapore or Australia. We don’t have one here in the country,” he said.

Dimagiba, however, clarified that Mitsubishi will spend for the sending of the allegedly defective units to the independent third party.

The SUA allegations started in 2011 and since then there have been 97 complainants, all owners of automatic transmission Mitsubishi sports utility vehicle (SUV), which are all imported from Thailand.

Dimagiba said of the 97, owners of some 35 of the vehicles decided to return their units after reaching an amicable settlement.

About the same number preferred to submit their respective complaint affidavits while the rest were never heard from after making some noise.

“Those who submitted their affidavit-complaints were given the chance to appear in hearings. This process is part of our investigation,” Dimagiba said, without revealing details of timeline of the independent third party.

Meanwhile, MMPC First Vice President Froilan Dytianquin, in earlier interview with The Manila Times, vowed to cooperate with the DTI probe, although he said his company will be vindicated by the investigation.

If defects are found, MMPC will be obliged to issue a recall order of the questioned Mitsubishi automatic transmission SUVs.

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