GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- At least five hardware stores in South Cotabato province and this city have been found selling substandard steel products, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Region 12 (Soccsksargen) said on Tuesday.

Dorecita Delima, DTI-12 director, said the five erring establishments were monitored during their surveillance and enforcement activities since last week.

Delima said the five stores were among the 29 establishments that were monitored by their personnel, in line with the agency’s nationwide campaign against the proliferation of substandard construction materials.

The monitoring activities, which were conducted by personnel from DTI-12 field offices, covered cement, equal leg angle bars, and other related products, she said.

Delima said they immediately issued notices of violation to the five establishments, four of which were located in Surallah and Norala towns in South Cotabato and one in the city.

“Violating firms will appear before DTI General Santos City and South Cotabato within 48 hours upon receipt of the notice,” she said in a statement.

The official said the activity was in response to a directive issued by DTI central office’s Consumer Protection Group, through their Regional Operations Group.

She said all regional and provincial enforcement teams were ordered to conduct surprise visits and inspections on various hardware stores in the region.

Elbert Capecio, consumer welfare division chief of DTI-South Cotabato, said the erring establishments were mandated to settle their violations immediately.

He said the violators could face maximum fines of PHP35,000. (PNA)