Senate probes manufacture of steel

PASAY CITY – The Senate launched an inquiry on the importation and sale of steel bars in the wake of reports that poor ones were locally produced and used in the construction of high-rise buildings in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

“Directing the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Industry to Conduct an Inquiry, In Aid of Legislation on the reported importation and sale of steel bars despite Non-Compliance with the sampling requirements of the Philippine National Standards (PNS) with the end in view of protecting public safety thru enactment of remedial measures that will stop the proliferation of substandard and uncertified steel bars in the country,” said Resolution No. 412 introduced by Sen. Panfilo Lacson.

The senate held a committee hearing on August 28 and September 11. It was attended committee chairman Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimental, Sen.
Sherwin Gatchalian and Sen. JV Ejercito.

On Tuesday, Former Senator Nikki Coseteng assailed a Department Trade and Industry (DTI) official for not staying neutral in connection with the probe on poor steel bars reportedly produced by local manufacturers over the past 10 years.

Coseteng said DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo was “saying the same line as the steel manufacturers” in the country.

“The DTI is supposed to be a regulator,” she added.

At the Senate inquiry, Castelo said that the “quench-tempered” (QT) reinforcement steel bars”is only banned in 5 countries out of 195.”
These countries are reportedly Taiwan, Japan, United States and America, Canada and New Zealand.

Coseteng said the Philippines is in an earthquake zone and a possible 7,2 magnitude earthquake could hit Metro Manila and nearby areas.

“Castelo is implying that it is safe to use the QT steel bars for high-rise structures. The problem is we live an Earthquake-prone area
not like the other countries where it’s not banned,” said Coseteng.

Over the last 10 years, buildings have been erected in the country using QT steel bars –a weaker type of steel bars – despite the prohibition against their use in high-rise buildings.

Coseteng said. She added that some manufacturers and structural engineers have been hiding this fact from the public.

Engr. Emilio Morales, who also attended the hearing, said the National Structural Code clearly imposed limitations on the use of QT steel
bars because these materials could not be subjected to bending, welding, threading or galvanizing.

The use of QT steel bars poses a high risk when used in the construction of high-rise buildings and can submit to failure when subjected in the event of a high-intensity earthquake, he added.