Some cement companies remain opposed to the proposed pre-shipment inspection of cement imports, saying all inbound shipments must undergo rigorous testing upon arrival in the Philippines to ensure consumer safety.
Eagle Cement Corp., which has heavily invested in new capacity expansion projects, have sought the intervention of industry group Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines to convince the government to review the rules on cement importation.
Eagle Cement chief operating officer Manny Teng, in a letter to Ernesto Ordoñez, director of the Philippine Product Safety Quality Foundation, said if the government came out with revised guidelines for the cement industry, the rules must foster a level playing field and ensure high regard for quality and environmental protection.
“Eagle Cement Corp. stands against the possible minimum requirement of a pre-shipment inspection as the substitute for testing cement imports upon arrival in the Philippines,” said the letter, also signed by Eagle Cement president and CEO Paul Ang.
“We believe that any diminution of the minimum quality standards of cements products, as imposed, would pose a great risk to the entire industry and to the clients it serves—the Filipino people,” the letter read.
“In this regard, we respectfully propose that all cement players, whether a manufacturer or a mere trader, should be required to have their imported cement duly tested at the port. We cannot underscore the importance of doing a local test as a crucial safeguard for consumers’ safety and lives,” it added.
Other cement producers have raised the issue of technical smuggling of cement before the Department of Trade and Industry, along with other concerned government agencies.
“We sincerely hope that the DTI can effectively move to stop such practices of undervaluation or tax evasion of importers by updating standard rates. The setting of specific benchmarks for cement and freight costs for each country of origin may be another option to consider,” they said.
The producers are apparently referring to the recent disclosure by resigned Customs Commissioner Nicene Felon that rampant technical smuggling of cement was occurring in the country’s port of entries. Faeldon also linked a son of Senator Panfilo Lacson to the controversy.
In separate letters to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Taiheiyo Cement Philippines president and CEO Satoshi Asabi, Mabuhay Filcement Inc. CEO Enrison Benedicto, incoming Republic Cement president Nabil Francis and Cemex Philippines president Ignacio Mijares said a “pre-shipment inspection only” rule could not substitute for testing imports upon arrival in the Philippines to ensure quality and safety.