DTI probes sale of faulty steel bars in Leyte, Samar
TACLOBAN CITY — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has launched an investigation of reports that several hardware stores in Leyte and parts of Samar were selling substandard construction materials, notably steel bars.
The investigation followed a report made by the Philippine Iron and Steel Institute (Pisi), which said test buys made in local hardware stores showed substandard concrete reinforcing steel bars, or rebars, were being sold.
Portia Teresa Calleja, senior trade and industry specialist of the DTI Eastern Visayas, said her office had already received a directive from the DTI central office about it.
A team from the DTI’s Fair Trade and Enforcement Bureau went to the region for the investigation based on the Pisi report.
Calleja, however, said she was not privy to results of the investigation.
“We are not taking this issue in stride because we want to protect the public,” she added.
According to the Pisi report, rebars that did not meet standards for tensile strength and were only 9 millimeters in diameter were being sold in hardware stores throughout Eastern Visayas.
Uncertified rebars were also found used in structures damaged by a recent quake in Kananga, Leyte.
Robert Cola, Pisi president, wrote to Trade Undersecretary Teodoro Pascua to reveal the findings.
Pascua, in response, formed a team to investigate and inspect hardware stores in Leyte last month.
Pisi conducted an investigation after Leyte, particularly Ormoc City and Kananga town, was hit by a 6.5-magnitude quake on July 6.
The group, representing the country’s iron and steel industry, conducted test buys in four stores—Ormoc Macmercury Hardware based in Ormoc City; New Mancera Lumber and Hardware Supply and V. Lopez and Construction, both based in Palo, Leyte, and L’ Casi Enterprise based in Basey town, Samar.
But employees of the Ormoc Macmercury Hardware and New Mancera Lumber and Hardware Supply assured customers they were selling “quality and safe products.”
“Modesty aside, we are in this business for around 15 years and none of our clients has reported that we are selling products that are substandard,” said Janet Pelota, purchasing officer of Ormoc Macmercury Hardware, in a phone interview.
“And we will not do that being one of the biggest hardware stores here in Ormoc,” she added.
Ormoc Macmercury Hardware has three outlets in Ormoc, ground zero of the 6.5-magnitude quake.
Pelota confirmed that a team from the DTI conducted an inspection in the store last month.
Edward Dueñas, internal auditor of New Mancera Lumber and Hardware Supplies, said the store got its supplies from companies with quality products that meet government standards.
“We have not received any complaints from our customers all these years since we started our operations in 1995. I think being mentioned (in the report) is unfair,” Dueñas said.
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