Press Release
November 17, 2016

Bam: Consumer Act amendments to give DTI more teeth, cover ICT

In a move to give the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) more teeth against erring businesses and enhance consumer protection, Sen. Bam Aquino has filed a measure amending the 24-year-old Consumer Act of the Philippines.

"In order to build stronger commercial systems and maintain thriving markets, there is a need to bolster the rights of consumers and we need to do this at the soonest possible time," Sen. Bam said in Senate Bill No. 1241 or the Revised Consumer Act of the Philippines.

"The measure aims to amend the 1992 Act in order to address the current issues facing our consumers and markets," added Sen. Bam, chairman of the Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship in the 16th Congress.

If enacted into law, the measure gives the DTI authority to close down any establishment caught in the act of selling, distributing, manufacturing, producing, displaying or importing hazardous and defective products.

It also increases administrative fines against erring businesses from P50,000 up to P10 million. The current law imposes a fine of P500 to P300,000.

"The fines should amount to five percent of the gross value of sales of the consumer product or service subject to the consumer complaint," he stressed.

The amendments include provision for new information and communications technologies (ICT), such as mobile phones and internet, which is crucial with the advent of the e-commerce industry.

In addition, the bill provides greater protection to consumers, particularly from false and deceptive advertising using mobile phones and the Internet.

"Proposed provisions in this measure also aim to better protect consumers from dangerous and unsafe products and abusive sales practice," said Sen. Bam.

The proposal also reiterates the eight consumer rights (rights to basic needs, safety, basic information, choose, representation, redress, consumer education and healthy environment) and five consumer responsibilities (critical awareness, action, social concern, environmental awareness and solidarity).

Furthermore, the measure mandates manufacturers to maintain a consumer hotline or service center that consumers can easily reach for complaints and inquiries by phone, email or other effective means.

In addition, foreign products with labels written in foreign characters or language will be allowed entry into the country only if they have a corresponding English or Filipino translation.

The measure will place the National Consumer Affairs Council (NCAC) under the Office of the DTI Secretary to give it more independence and power.

It will also be expanded to include the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Department of Energy, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Information and Communication Technology. Businesses offering price-discounted rates for single or bulk purchase of products or services will be exempted from the requirement to secure a sales promotion permit , alleviating them of the added burden. This move will help to facilitate e-commerce in the country.

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