FIGHT IT CALL FOR TRANSPARENCY IN TESTING OF SUSPECTED PHP95 MILLION SMUGGLED STEEL
The Fight Illicit Trade (Fight IT) movement called for more transparency on import standards testing following the questionable entry of some P95 million worth of suspected sub-standard steel products at the Subic Bay Freeport last month.
Fight IT Chairman Jesus Arranza also questioned the legal basis of the Department of Trade and Industry issuance of a “provisional” import commodity clearance (ICC) for the shipment of 5,000 metric tons of deformed steel bars (rebars) that arrived in Subic on April 25.
Philippine Iron and Steel Institute (PISI) President Roberto Cola said the product sample testing for the shipment from the People Republic of China was “done in haste and utmost secrecy.”
“We understand that only three samples were tested and these samples were taken without a witness from the Bureau of Customs and an industry technical expert of the Federation of Philippine Industries,” Cola said in his letter to DTI Secretary Adrian Cristobal last May 23.
Arranza, who is also the chairman of the FPI, confirmed that there was no industry technical expert to witness the inspection and testing of the questionable shipment consigned to the Mannage Resource Trading Corporation. A memorandum of agreement between the BOC and the FPI requires representatives from both parties present during inspection of suspected smuggled shipment.
He said this form of the illicit practice not only cheats the consumers out of their hard earned money but more importantly threatens their safety and security. “In recent natural disasters like the earthquake in Bohol and flooding caused by typhoons, many properties destroyed were found to be made up of sub-standard construction materials.”
“We call on the DTI to ensure transparency and apply the same stringent quality examination applied to locally made products in dealing with these types of suspicious shipment. There should be no special treatment” Arranza said.
He also questioned the supposed “provisional” ICC issued to the consignee saying the ICC is only issued after sufficient inspection. “There is no such thing as ‘provisional’,” Arranza said.
In his letter to Crsitobal, Cola asked the DTI to conduct a resampling and testing of the MRTC shipment in the presence of BOC and FPI representatives.
Cola said the DTI should implement the PNS 49:2002 sampling procedure of one sample per 2,000 pieces (20 metric tons) for MRTC shipment. The shipment in question contained 500,000 pieces of 12 mm diameter by 12 meter length.
“The tests should be those tests required of all Philippine PS Certified rebars manufacturers before distribution of the same and should be applied to imported bars upon reaching Philippine soil, before it leaves the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Customs,” Cola said.
Fight IT is a broad-based, multi-sectoral movement established to protect consumers, safeguard government revenues and shield legitimate industries from the ill-effects of smuggling. The movement was launched last year and made up mostly of members of the anti-smuggling committee of the FPI.
The movement has been working closely with the National Bureau of Investigations (NBI) and the BOC. To date, the movement has advocated strongly against the growing illicit trade in sugar, coconut, tobacco and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). – tradeinmagazine.com