The Philippine Iron and Steel Institute has asked the Customs bureau to seize and detain 5,000 metric tons of reinforced steel bars (rebars) from China valued at P95 million and brought in by a company engaged in the food business. Customs, meanwhile, confiscated P1.5 billion worth of fake branded watches and jewelry from a warehouse in Manila.
PISI also asked the district collector of the Port of Subic, where the cargo was unloaded late last month, to hold the processing of the import entry of Mannage Resources Trading Corp., the consignee, until the completion of tests to make sure the rebars are not substandard to ensure public safety.
The Customs bureau had issued an alert order on the cargo for “lack of permit.” A hearing had been set on May 17 and 18.
PISI president Roberto Cola said in his April 25 letter to the Subic customs collector that the importation “lacks the required import commodity clearance [ICC].” In another letter, dated April 20, PISI also said “no ICC certificate…has been filed for the shipment.”
The Department of Trade and Industry in Subic, however, showed it issued an ICC to Mannage on April 18 allowing the consignee to transfer the cargo from customs’ custody to its warehouse despite the pending customs hearing.
It was signed by DTI provincial director Leonila Baluyut although it is the director of the Bureau of Philippine Standards who is authorized to issue an ICC.
Cola said it was the first time for Mannage to import rebars since it is in the food business. The shipment is worth around P95 million while Mannage’s subscribed capital was only P400,000.
Rebar is one of the few products that are monitored for mandatory safety certification. Based on current practice, at least 250 samplings and tests must be conducted on the shipment to establish their quality. Cola asked for industry representatives to be present at the testing of the rebars by BPS.
But in a letter to Cola, Baluyut denied the local industry’s participation in the inventory and inspection of the subject goods although DTI normally requests for the cooperation and assistance of industry experts in evaluating questionable shipments, particularly when the safety and security of the consuming public is concerned.
In another development, Customs and NBI operatives seized fake watches and jewelry worth P1.5 billion in a warehouse in Manila.
At least 150,000 pieces of fake designer watches were seized from the warehouses allegedly owned by a certain Jones Hernandez Sy and his wife Lily Desierto Sy. The watches had such brands as Rado, Omega, Breitling and Seiko, among others.
“Initial investigation showed that the couple is a primary importer and supplier of fake watches,” said Terence Agustin of the National Bureau of Investigation. “We found delivery records showing this warehouse served as distribution hub for Manila, stretching as far as Cebu, Davao, Zamboanga and Agusan,” Agustin said.