DTI urged to recover ‘low-quality’ imported cement from buyers

In a statement, CeMAP quoted its president Ernesto M. Ordoñez to have asked the DTI to recover the goods to prevent accidents and "protect the consumers."

CeMAP cited that the product was banned after failing "critical parameters" such as the autoclave expansion and the seven-day quality testing. They also noted that the cement bags lacked permanent product markings designed to ensure consumer safety.

The cement's poor compressive or binding force was also pointed out in the wake of recent earthquakes that rocked the cities of Davao and General Santos.

Robert Barlis, chief of DTI's field service division in Southeastern Mindanao, said the letter has not reached him yet as of Friday afternoon. "Cement is part of regular monitoring; we're monitoring outlets such as hardware (stores), construction supply stores, and others," he said.

"In case Horse cement brand is found, establishments may be charged for selling uncertified product and issued appropriate preventive orders," Barlis told MindaNews Saturday in a telephone interview.

But he clarified that their mandate only covers outlets. "We can only advise the buyers so they could file complaints against the outlet that sold them the product," he said.

DTI has campaigned against the use of the Horse brand cement until the Bureau of Products Standards issues an import commodity clearance for the product.

He said administrative charges had been filed against the importer and outlets that sold the products.

Both importers and distributors were sued, he said, for "alleged violations of the Standards law and DTI Administrative Order No. 2 Series of 2002 on prohibition of sale and distribution of imported products with clearance from the BPS".

Barlis said they could order preventive measures against outlets after charging them for violations. "But that depends on the circumstances," he said, adding that the missing 30,000 bags from the warehouse could have been sold to many outlets.

He cited that preventive measures against outlets include seizure, padlocking or cease and desist orders. He said that if they find four to 10 bags, the would seize and store the goods in an area. "But we do not have an area for big volumes so we might opt to padlock or order cease and desist," he said.

DTI's Davao City office padlocked on Oct. 17 the warehouse of Philman Commercial, the product importer, following reports that a fourth of the 118,000 bags of cement had been sold here and in General Santos City.
Earlier, DTI officials said it was padlocked to prevent further releases.

Philman was only allowed to stock the product in its warehouse in Sasa district here after the goods failed the initial standards check required in the issuance of an import commodity certificate. The law requires an ICC from BPS before imported goods may be sold.

But Barlis clarified that as of this time, the status of the Horse cement stock is still "uncertified" . He said the products could not yet be classified as "substandard" or "fake" pending the result of the final standards test in Manila due next month.