Consumer advocacy on an international scale

Published January 2, 2021, 6:00 AM

by Atty. Vic Dimagiba

Our consumer advocacy group Laban Konsyumer Inc. (LKI), reassures the consumers that the group’s mission to protect and ensure consumer welfare will continue in full force in 2021. We will begin 2021 by putting consumer advocacy in the international environment.

For my readers’  reference, LKI is a full-term paying member of the Consumers International (CI), an association of consumer organizationsfrom all over the world, whose principal mission is empowering consumers and improving consumer welfare. In 2019, LKI was nominated by five (5) consumer organizations of CI led by the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (FOMCA) to a seat in the fifteen-member Council although the bid did not succeed. However, LKI shall continue to strive to get a seat for the country in the next election of the organization.

This consumer movement started with a pioneering group offounding members in 1960 and has since growninto a diverse and powerful global network in 2020.​ In  the course of the last 60 years,  C I has been part of significant collaborations and impactful successes including adoption in 1985  by the United Nations (UN) of the  guidelines on consumer protection,contributions  to the 2015 abolition of export subsidies for agricultural products, and the successful campaign for the G20 to develop international principles on financial consumer protection.

This organization has over 200 member organisations in more than 100 countries which, continue to build a powerful international movement to help protect and empower consumers everywhere. This 60th year is thus an important milestone which recognizes the extraordinary achievementsof the consumer movement. It is also an opportunity to look to the future and highlight the central role of consumers and consumer advocates.

2020 itself has been an incredibly challenging year so far and has required leadership through crisis, showing that a united, determined and passionate movement is critical, with consumer groups working together with key partners and global leaders to drive change towards a safer, fairer and more sustainable world. LKI looks to continue its support, partnership and membership with CI so as to advocate and protect consumer welfare for all Filipinos especially on Sustainability, Digitalization and Inclusion.

This is why LKI fully supports World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) 2021 and its ancillary activities. In the run up to this milestone, LKI has contributed tothe financial education and literacy survey as well as contributed to the discussion in the areas of consumer protection, productstandards and digital privacy. In the process, we also benefit by learning best practices and by networking with the rest of the world.

Quoting from “CI @ 60”, the consumer movement marks every March15 as World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD)and utilizes WCRD to raise global awareness about consumer rights and needs. Celebrating the day is a chance to demand that the rights of all consumers are respected and protected, and to protest against market abuses and social injustices which undermine those rights. For a historical background… WCRD  was inspired by President John F. Kennedy, who sent a special message to the US Congress on  March 15  1962, in which he formally addressed the issue of consumer rights –  the first world leader to do so. The consumer movement first marked that date in 1983 and now uses the day every year to mobilise action on important issues and campaigns.

This support and participation of LKI in the international scene of consumer rights and welfare is a testament to its mission to put consumers first, most especially these days when the pandemicis wreaking havoc and upending lives.  Thus this past year, LKI has striven strongly to ease the burden of Filipino consumers throughits various initiatives and programs – from medicines, food products including market prices of pork, fish, beef and vegetables and fruits, to tollway services and operations, to cost of services from utilities, to online shopping and reviews, and all the way to services by restaurants, gyms and other such functions. LKI is looking at all possible ways to ease the consumers from high prices and abusive practices.

LKI promises to continue its commitmentto spread the message of consumer empowerment on a larger and international scale in the coming years.

(Excerpts from the CI @60 anniversary material acknowledged)

Atty. Vic Dimagiba is President of Laban Konsyumer Inc.

Email at [email protected]