Creation of eCommerce Bureau gets Appropriations committee approval

The House Committee on Appropriations swiftly approved Tuesday (August 25) a substitute measure seeking the creation of the Electronic Commerce Bureau.


The bill seeks to regulate all business-to-business and business-to-consumer commercial transactions conducted over the internet, including those related to internet retail of consumer goods and services, online travel services, online media providers, ride hailing services, and digital financial services.

After less than 10 minutes of virtual deliberations, presided by Quirino lone District Rep. Junie Cua, the House panel passed the appropriations provision of the proposed “Internet Transactions Act”.

The panel gave in to the request of Valenzuela 1st District Rep. Wes Gatchalian, chairman of the House Committee on Trade and Industry, to expeditiously pass the funding provision of the measure.

“The bill seeks to protect the consumers. This bill also seeks to protect the merchants who are selling on Facebook, who are on transacting in Lazada, in Shopee, etc. The purpose of the bill is to have a one-stop wherein all the complaints can be addressed and this is what we call eCommerce Bureau,” Gatchalian said in his sponsorship speech.

It was Davao de Oro 2nd District Rep. Ruwel Peter Gonzaga who moved for the approval of the funding provisions of the bill.

Gonzaga read the recommendation made by the Gatchalian panel that "the amount necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act shall be included in the Annual General Appropriations Act.” Such amendment was adopted by the House Committee on Appropriations.

The House Committee on Trade and Industry initially sought P50 million for the initial operation of the eCommerce Bureau, which is appropriated out of any funds in the National Treasury not otherwise appropriated and such sum as may be necessary for the continued implementation of the proposed Act shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.

The originally proposed appropriations provision was entirely deleted, and the Gatchalian panel decided that the necessary amount to implement the measure be included in the annual national budget,

Last July 20, the House Committee on Trade and Industry approved the substitute measure, which does not cover consumer-to-consumer transactions, or occasional low value transactions.

Under the bill, eCommerce Bureau shall be created under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) within six months after the effectivity of this Act.

It is also empowered to investigate, motu proprio, and file the appropriate cases for violations of proposed Act.

The bill penalizes the cancellation of orders for food and/or grocery items made via a ride hailing service when the said items have already been paid by or is already in the possession of the ride hailing service partner or in transit to the consumer. Under the measure, it will also be illegal to “unreasonably shame, demean, embarrass, or humiliate ride hailing service partners.”

A consumer, however, may cancel an order if the delivery of ordered food or grocery items was or will be delayed for at least an hour from the expected time of arrival due to the fault or negligence of the ride hailing service partner, the bill provides.