MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Trade and Industry and Bureau of Customs are warning the public to be vigilant when buying ceramic tiles and plywood.

This comes as the BOC said more than half of the ceramic tiles and plywood imported into the Philippines last July may have been imported and released without being cleared by the DTI's Bureau of Philippine Standards (BPS).

There is ongoing investigation to determine how many substandard tiles and plywood have entered the market, although the BOC and DTI said the amounts released are "substantial."

When buying tiles or plywood, consumers are reminded to check for the Philippine Standard (PS) Quality or Safety Certification Mark License; or Import Commodity Clearance/s (ICC) issued to manufacturers or importers, respectively. They should also check if the packaging or product has an authentic PS Mark or ICC sticker.

The initial investigation by the BPS and BOC showed of the 66,493 tons of tiles imported in July 2014, 26,226 tons were released without BPS clearance. Another 14,704 tons were cleared for release, and may have already been released without BPS clearance.

Of the 31,077 tons of plywood imported in July 2014, 7,566 tons were released without BPS clearance. Another 13,843 tons were cleared for release, and may have already been released, without the necessary BPS clearance.

The BOC said it will now put in place measures to monitor compliance by importers and Customs examiners and appraisers of all import permit and clearance requirements.

Among these measures are regular sharing of data on regulated imports; investigations and sanctions against BOC employees who cleared imports of regulated products without import permits; legal action against erring importers; and product recall and appropriate legal action by DTI against subject importers.

Most building and construction materials sold in the market are required to undergo the BPS Product Certification Scheme for product safety and reliability.

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