Philippine-made cement cited for its high quality

Cement used in houses, buildings, roads, bridges and other structures in the Philippines will continue to be of the highest quality to ensure their integrity and the safety of their users.

This was the assurance given by the Cement Manufacturer’ Association of the Philippines (CeMAP) in the wake of the string of calamities that recently hit the country.

“Despite the Philippines being a calamity-prone country, we are proud to say that there has never been a complaint that a structure has collapsed because of substandard cement,” Ernesto M. Ordoñez, CeMAP president said.

This is because every bag of cement sold in the Philippines – whether locally manufactured or imported – is required to meet the international American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards. The cement must pass stringent testing by Philippine government and private laboratories before it is released into the market. In support of this, CeMAP implements a cement proficiency testing (PT) program to make sure that these cement laboratories are qualified to undertake the testing following global best practices.

Known in the global cement industry for conducting the most stringent tests in the world to ensure its members’ compliance with the highest international standards, CeMAP recently announced the continuation of its cement PT program, the only one of its kind in Southeast Asia.

“We are determined to uphold our safety record even as the country braces for natural calamities that seem to become more severe every year,” Ordoñez said.

The association works with the Bureau of Product Standards (BPS), an agency under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), to maintain this notable record of preventing the substandard cement from being released into the market.

In addition to some 20 typhoons entering the Philippine area of responsibility each year on average (with eight to nine making landfall), the country also sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire. This is a long horseshoe-shaped seismically active belt of earthquake epicentres, volcanoes, and tectonic plate boundaries located on the fringes of the Pacific basin. For much of its 40,000-kilometer length, the belt follows chains of island arcs of which the Philippines is a part. Volcanoes are associated with the belt throughout its length, which is why it is called the “Ring of Fire.”

Thus, the World Bank has identified the Philippines as one of the most hazard-prone countries in the world. It said the Southeast Asian nation’s location in the tropics exposes it to multiple natural hazards including typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic activity, floods and drought.

“CeMAP’s strict, thorough testing of cement and the corresponding stiff penalties imposed for non-compliance are the main reasons there are no complaints of substandard cement, despite our many natural calamities,” Ordoñez pointed out.

CeMAP-affiliated cement plants, which manufacture several types of cement, conduct monthly tests for each cement type, on three samples from the plant and two samples from the market.

CeMAP’s proficiency testing program is now on its sixth year in improving the test procedures of government and private cement laboratories. For this year’s PT round, sample preparation of test materials was done last August. Beginning in October, these materials will be sent to participating cement laboratories which will discuss problems and recommend solutions to further improve the testing procedures of the country’s cement laboratories. Last year, 33 laboratories participated in the program: 24 from the private sector and nine from the government.

Both domestic and imported cement undergo strict laboratory testing to ensure that manufacturers do not take shortcuts by offering substandard cement and endangering consumer welfare.

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