Weak steel suspect in quake infra damage

November 03, 2019

HOUSE leaders on Sunday joined calls for the House Committee on Trade and Industry to immediately investigate the alleged smuggling and proliferation of substandard steel products that could have compromised the structural soundness of some infrastructure in the country in the last 10 to 12 years.

Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab, Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo, and ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Go Yap backed Agusan del Norte Rep. Lawrence Lemuel H. Fortun’s House Resolution (HR) No. 379 following deaths and destruction caused by the series of earthquakes that hit Mindanao last week.

“This seeming grand deception may have led to the rise in the past 10 to 12 years of structurally-compromised infrastructures that may not be able to withstand high intensity quakes, thus endangering the lives of millions of Filipinos,” said Fortun who filed the resolution to investigate the alleged collusion between large steelmakers and officials of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) behind smuggling of substandard steel products.

Ungab and Barbers said contractors who have been using the alleged smuggled below-par materials, including undersized steel bars, should also face justice.

“Those involved in the alleged collusion should be held accountable and dealt with accordingly, after due investigation,” said Ungab, who chairs the powerful House Committee on Appropriation.

“The call of Congressman Fortun to investigate the proliferation of supposed substandard steel products should be prioritized to ensure public safety,” said Barbers, the chairman of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs.

In supporting the initiative of Fortun, Castelo, a vice chairperson of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development, said “heads must roll because we cannot toy with the lives of other people.”

“Someone should be responsible for the proliferation of substandard steel that resulted in the collapse or damage to buildings in Mindanao,” said Castelo.

Yap, who chairs the House Committee on Games and Amusement, said “it is in best interest of everybody for this (resolution) to be acted upon by the House immediately.”

“With the series of strong earthquakes in Mindanao, I could not help but cringe at the fact that some of the structures in the country may not be and no longer be structurally ready for calamities like these. Substandard materials continue to proliferate in the market particularly steel products and I strongly condemn these actions that endanger the lives of our people,” said Yap.