Source: BusinessWorld Online Edition
THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) will investigate the disposal of substandard steel angle bars, after the Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) claimed possible irregularities in the process that may result in the seized bars leaking onto the market.
“The question on whether there had been irregularities on the destruction of the angle bars will be investigated. We assure the public that proper procedures will be followed. Should there be any irregularities found, those involved will be dealt with severely,” a statement quoted lawyer Mandy Therese M. Anderson, Chief of Staff of the Office of the Commissioner and BoC Spokesperson, as saying.
In a text message reply yesterday, Ms. Anderson said that the angle bars did not pass the Trade department’s product standards which led to the seizure of the goods.
“Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) found the Philippines Standards marks fake, and the angle bars substandard, hence the DTI recommended destruction,” she said.
Imported steel angle bars must pass the Philippine National Standards (PNS) 657:2008 under the DTI-Bureau of Product Standards Mandatory Product Certification, before they are released from the Customs zone.
DTI poster listing the quality marks for angle bars. -- DTI
FPI Chairperson Jesus L. Arranza -- who raised the issue last Friday -- noted that some seized goods which were found to be substandard, leak out of Customs custody through public auctions, despite reports of their proper disposal.
He said that the destruction process must be secured, to prohibit the substandard goods from entering the market, as it would make buildings using the said bars vulnerable to natural disasters.
“Our point is when it is substandard, it should be destroyed. Otherwise, it will find its way to the market. If you don’t destroy [it], then you’re putting [people] at risk,” said Mr. Arranza in a phone interview yesterday.
FPI, together with the Steel Angles, Shapes and Sections Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (SASSMAPI) earlier requested Commissioner Nicanor E. Faeldon to investigate public auctions, to ensure that the steel angle bars were cut into non-commercial lengths, before proceeding with their auction.
Meanwhile according to Ms. Anderson, despite initial reports finding no such irregularities, the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service has been ordered to continue investigating.
Lawyer Oscar Villalva, acting chief of the Auction and Cargo Disposal Division (ACDD) said that the bureau has sent notices of destruction to the DTI and the Commission on Audit, as well as the SASSMAPI.
In the statement, the ACDD said that “they cannot delay the destruction of the angle bars if other external entities remain unresponsive to the notices they sent.”
“The scrap metals also took a longer time to undergo destruction because acetylene was used instead of cutting machines,” it added, defending the bureau’s destruction procedure.