House body asked to start probe on cement cartel, Philippines

House body asked to start probe on cement cartel, Philippines
Published: 29 November 2006

Baguio Representative Mauricio Domogan has called on the House committee on trade and industry to immediately schedule the needed hearings so that appropriate remedial measures could be adopted to control the unabated increase in cement prices.

Domogan delivered a privilege speech in Congress on September 4, wherein he strongly denounced the skyrocketing prices of cement without the sufficient basis.

In his letter to Quirino Representative Junie Cua, chairperson of the House committee on trade and commerce, Domogan pointed out that there is an urgent need for Congress to exercise its oversight powers to compel government agencies, particularly the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), to perform their duties and responsibilities to uphold the interest of the people and not protect the interest of the elite.

He said cement manufacturers unwittingly increased their ex-plant prices from P151 to P156 per bag without sufficient basis because the oil prices and peso-dollar exchange, which were used by the manufacturers to justify the excessive ex-plant prices, had significantly improved over the past months.

Domogan claimed that the P151 per bag ex-plant price was still questionable because the production cost of the product was only P75, which means over 100 percent profit for the manufacturers.

Worst, he said there are reports that the cement being sold in the local markets is of poor quality because the DTI does not compel the manufacturers to place the actual components of the product and their corresponding percentages on the container of the product.

He cited that the labeling of the cement bags would be vital for cross-checking purposes because the standard quality of cement must be assured since it is considered a prime commodity and a prime component for the construction of vital structures for the protection of lives and properties.

The Baguio lawmaker rallied all sectors in the country to support their crusade to put a stop to the abuses being committed by the cement manufacturers, particularly the unabated increase in cement prices as well as the reported distribution of poor quality of cement.

It was learned that a lot of vital infrastructure projects of the government had been compromised due to the continuous rise in cement prices because the funds appropriated for the prosecution of such projects is no longer enough.