By Elijah Felice Rosales, April 7 2019; Business Mirror

Image Credit to Business Mirror

Steel manufacturers want the government to tighten its market monitoring and standards- enforcement programs to stop the proliferation of substandard steel products, most recently discovered prevalent in the Cordilleras.

In a report to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Philippine Iron and Steel Institute (Pisi) claimed substandard rebars are being sold in several hardware stores in Benguet, Mountain Province and Ifugao. The group found this out in the market monitoring and test buys it initiated early this year.

The Pisi said it confirmed with the Metals Industry Research and Development Center that there were really low-grade steel in the Cordilleras, many of which found to be underweight, with low elongation or undersized.

Of the 12 hardware stores visited by Pisi, four allegedly sold substandard rebars made by Wan Chiong Steel Corp., whose operations were suspended by the DTI last year. Wan Chiong’s 16-mm steel bars sold in La Trinidad, Benguet, reportedly lacked weight and failed in elongation.

Further, Wan Chiong’s 12-mm rebars sold in two stores in Bauko, Mountain Province,  were found to be underweight, while those in Lagawe, Ifugao were underweight also and with low elongation.

The Pisi also claimed it found substandard steel bars produced by Real Steel Manufacturing Corp., United Steel Master Manufacturing Corp. and Maxima Steel Mills Corp. sold in Cordillera stores. It spotted, too, the fraudulent selling of 7-mm rebars as 8-mm rebars in Baguio City, as well as 8-mm steel bars as 9-mm steel bars in Banaue, Ifugao.

Pisi Vice President for Technical Affairs Joel T. Ronquillo said buyers are at the short end of the stick in the proliferation of substandard steel bars in the market.

“The substandard rebars are definitely unsafe to use. The burden and great effect would be for the end users and consumers that will use the substandard rebars without their due knowledge,” he said in the Pisi report.

Ronquillo appealed to the DTI’s Consumer Protection Group and Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau to initiate a nationwide market monitoring and standards-enforcement campaign.

Moreover, he said market monitoring teams should conduct an actual weighing of rebars to determine safety and quality compliance, as well as checking of logos and markings. Ronquillo also put the government to task in filing cases against stores and manufacturers found violating laws on product standards and fair trade.

He said Pisi is ready to render its services to the DTI should it need help in stopping the proliferation of substandard steel products.

Concrete reinforcing steel bar, also known as rebar, is primarily used for the construction of houses. It functions as a tension device in reinforced concretes that fortifies and supports the concrete under tension.