Damaged structures in Leyte, Samar quake areas used substandard materials: steel industry group

July 31, 2017 - 5:18 PM
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Damage in a community in Ormoc City after Thursday's 6.5 magnitude earthquake. (Ormoc City government file photo)

MANILA – Several damaged structures in quake-affected areas in Leyte and Samar bore substandard, uncertified concrete reinforcing steelbars (rebars), an industry group said in a report to the Department of Trade and Industry.

The Philippine Iron and Steel Institute (PISI) also warned government regulators that test-buys it recently conducted in the same region showed that similarly problematic construction materials – possible smuggled in through Cebu port – are being sold in big stores, raising the possibility that the ongoing reconstruction projects might use such substandard items, jeopardizing public safety.

PISI president Roberto Cola gave details of the inspection and test-buy report in a letter to Undersecretary Teodoro Pascua of the Consumer Protection Group of the Department of Trade and Industry.

“We write to inform your good office of PISI’s site investigation findings in the areas affected by the 6.5 magnitude earthquake on July 6, 2017. Our team visited Kananga, Palo, Ormoc City and Tacloban City in Leyte, and town of Basey in Samar to check the concrete reinforcing steelbars (rebars) used in the damaged structures and conducted random test buys on the hardware stores,” Cola wrote Pascua.

According to Cola, “the uncertified products that were found in the damaged structures and in the market were most likely imported and did not follow the Import Commodity Clearance procedures of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). These rebars passed through the Bureau of Customs (most likely Cebu Port) without the benefit of being inspected and tested.”

The ominous implication, per Cola: “Considering that these earthquake- damaged areas will now start rebuilding, it is necessary to remove these dangerous rebars from the market.” He proposed a massive market monitoring and standards enforcement from DTI.

Both DTI and BOC “should come up with a campaign to prevent additional or new batches of uncertified imported rebars to slip from our ports of entry,” added Cola.

The PISI chief listed the major findings of the group’s investigation:

1. Uncertified rebars were found in several damaged structures.
2. Rebars with marginal tensile strength were found in random “test buy” operation.
3. Rebar size 9mm diameter that is not in the specifications of PNS 211:2002 and PNS 49:2002 mandatory standards are being sold in the market.

“In the interest of public safety, PISI strongly recommends that DTI-CPG immediately launch a regular market monitoring/standards enforcement in Leyte and Samar as the rebuilding activities are now starting in these earthquake-affected areas,” Cola’s letter said.

The PISI pointed out that “there are also ongoing reconstruction projects in these two provinces devastated by Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013,” adding that the institute “is willing to provide whatever assistance is needed in this worthy endeavor.”

Copies of the PISI letter were furnished DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon and Rep.Lucy Torres Gomez of the 4th District of Leyte.

CLICK BELOW FOR THE PISI’S FULL REPORT TO DTI:

5:09 PM 7/31/2017