Porac, Pampanga—Former Senator Nikki Coseteng blamed steel manufacturer as the culprit in the April 22 collapse of the four-storey Chuzon Supermarket here after the magnitude 6.1 earthquake that shook the province and other parts of Central Luzon.
“Steel bars manufactured in the country are not reliable,” said Coseteng shortly before her visit to Chuzon at Barangay Cangatba here Thursday, adding the Bureau of Products Standards of the Department of Trade and Industry must also be questioned for the proliferation of sub-standard materials in the market.
Coseteng reiterated her previous calls to steel manufacturers in the country to take full responsibility in the event of similar disaster.
“The main issue here is the safety and lives of people...everyone and do not focus on profit.”
“What we need to know is the quality of steel being used in the construction sector because at stake here are the safety and lives of people,” Coseteng pointed out.
She said the steel bars being sold in the market were “quelch-tempered steel” not suitable for bending, welding and threaded so as not to affect the itegrity of the steel.
“When I saw the photos of the collapsed Chuzon Supermarket,” Coseteng said she was worried as there were indications of clear violations in the National Structure Code of the Philippines.
She said some irregularities and practices of steel manufacturers could be noticed in sizes which was a deception to the public.
At least five persons died after being pinned under the rubble of collapsed structure of Chuzon Supermarket.
Nine were rescued alive including a woman whose leg was amputated by medics to survive shortly after the earthquake.
The Office of Civil Defense has completed the clearing operations at the “ground zero” after it has detected “no more signs of life” on May 1.
A special investigation task force led by the Department of Public Works and Highways, Local Government Unit of Porac, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and OCD have gathered specimens to be used as reference during the probe.
“Lifted specimens will be submitted to the Bureau of Research and Studies of the DPWH for further testing and validation,” said a DPWH engineer who declined to be named as he is not allowed to speak to reporters.
Porac Mayor Carling de la Cruz said the local government had yet to decide wether it will file class suit against the steel manufacturer or supplier of the steel bars used in Chuzon Supermarket pending result of the investigation.
Coseteng was accompanied by Police Lt. Col. Cris Tiguelo, Porac police chief, during the occular inspection at the ground zero site.