A product safety and quality advocacy group has urged the government to implement stricter testing for imported cement and steel to determine their high quality and safety before they are sold in the domestic market.
The Philippine Product Safety and Quality Foundation issued the call amid reports that substandard cement and steel products made in other countries had entered the Philippine market.
The PPQSF said such stringent regulatory practice was common among many countries, including Malaysia and Australia.
The foundation said in a position paper imported shipments should not be released without undergoing the mandatory testing for safety and quality standards.
“What is the use of testing if you will release the unsafe product anyway? Product recall orders for dangerous products like steel and cement are not practical because they will already have been widely distributed and become part of buildings and houses,” the PPSQF said.
The advocacy group said post-shipment inspection at ports of entry within the country should be done for imported cement for safety reasons, and release of the same should be done only after safety tests had been satisfied.
The PPSQF board of directors expressed concern that substandard steel and cement had penetrated the local market to the prejudice of the Filipino consumers and the public in general.
Organized by the Department of Trade and Industry in 2002, the PPQSF is composed of key players the consumer and industry sectors. The group cited the results of a nine-country survey revealing that Asean economies inspect steel and cement imports at port of entry, and do not rely on pre-shipment inspections done in other countries.
The report, which was relayed to the DTI on August 30, showed that neighboring economies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, including Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, and Brunei, all had policies requiring the inspection and testing of cement at their ports of entry. Other Asian economies, including Taiwan, and Japan, as well as Australia implement similar protocols for cement.
The survey cited a number of factors that have caused the economies to employ sampling and testing procedures at the ports where the cement imports arrive.
In Malaysia, for instance, imported products are tested right at the port of entry to prevent substandard products from entering its market.
On the other hand, Vietnam does not trust the pre-shipment test results of the small cement suppliers and some third parties.
Australia also conducts testing at the port of entry even if the products have already undergone pre-shipment inspection to preclude contaminated products arising during transit.