A consumer welfare advocacy group seeks tougher government action against the proliferation of imported substandard construction materials flooding the local market, saying these products could inflict long-term negative impact on the country’s infrastructure and construction sector.
“Government indifference to the unabated importation of low quality construction materials specifically cement and steel could embolden unscrupulous traders to capitalize on this irregularity even at the extreme prejudice of the integrity of the Philippine construction industry,” said Oliver San Antonio, spokesman and counsel of the National Coalition of Filipino Consumers.
San Antonio cited recent reports about alleged foreign-made adulterated cement and substandard steel being sold in the domestic market.
“Cement and steel form the very foundation of our houses and buildings. Our government must ensure that substandard imported materials do not contaminate local supplies, especially since there has been a spate of destructive earthquakes and typhoons recently,” San Antonio said
He noted that the Philippines is located in a typhoon zone and the so-called Asia’s Ring of Fire, making it one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.
“This is why it’s extremely vital that we use only the best building materials to ensure public safety,” the NCFC leader said.
Recent reports indicated that a syndicate was apparently behind the proliferation of cement adulterated with calcium carbonate being sold in the local market. This led to the arrest of nine suspects in San Pedro, Laguna who were accused of repacking cement mixed with the filler, locally known as “kalburo.”
In December 2016, the Philippine Iron and Steel Institute, the umbrella organization for the local steel industry, revealed that “substandard and uncertified steel bars” were used in the buildings that were damaged during the 2013 Cebu and Bohol earthquakes.
Substandard cement and steel were reportedly procured from China and Vietnam.
San Antonio lauded the Department of Trade and Industry for implementing policies meant to ensure that architects and contractors use only high-quality building materials.