New consumer protection measures backed by House panel

Published February 4, 2021, 1:41 PM

by Ben Rosario

The House Committee on Trade and Industry on Thursday approved proposals updating the ‘antiquated’ Consumer Act of the Philippines in order to give consumers ample protection from deceitful, abusive and dishonest trade practices amid the continued rise in goods and services in the country.

MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO

The House panel chaired by Navotas Rep. John Reynald Tiangco agreed to adopt the technical working group recommendation to consolidate seven bills that are aimed at  putting more teeth to existing consumer protection laws, as well as introducing new provisions that that would impose heavy penalties on deceiving and abusive schemes against consumers with the use of modern technology.


Headed by Bataan Rep. Jose Enrique S. Garcia III, the TWG recommended the creation of a Consumers Affairs Council of the Philippines that will oversee the implementation of consumer protection laws in the country, especially the amended CAP.


Included as salient features of the proposed consolidated masure  were proposals lifted from the bills filed by Deputy Speakers Rufus Rodriguez (CID, Cagayan de Oro City); Michael L. Romero (1PACMAN Partylist) and Conrado M. Estrella III (ABONO Partylist) and Reps. Precious Hipolito Castelo (PDP-Laban, Quezon City) , Enrico Pineda (1PACMAN Partylist) and Jocelyn Limkaichong (NPC, Negros Oriental).


In their bill, Romero and Pineda batted for increased penalties and sanctions for violations of the CAP that was enacted in 1992.

The trade and industry panel agreed to impose higher fines for various consumer-related offenses.  

Certain offenses carried a penalty of as much as P5 million against  manufacturers. importers or middlemen found guilty of violating the updated CAP. 

Aliens found guilty of anti-consumer rights offenses will be deported after serving their prison sentence and paying the required fine.


On the other hand, Estrella filed House Bill 6420  proposing protection of public health through appropriate, transparent and easily comprehensible labelling of all processed and semi-processed food products.

Rodriguez said the TWG proposed penalties against mislabeling and wrong product labelling, deceptive, false and misleading advertising via the mass media, internet or even telephone calls.


Limkaichong called for standard date labeling in the packaging of consumer products.

For her part, Castelo stressed that there is an urgent need to amend the CAP to make its provisions conform with the current trends in the market, especially during the “advent of information and communications technology int he modern world.”

“Since RA 7394 was enacted in 1992, there has been no amendment of the said law to conform with the current trends int he market,” said Castelo.

According to Rodriguez the consolidated bill provides  for the grant to implementing agencies of expanded powers to include, among others,  visitorial authority, immediate declaration of products as imminently dangerous to public health and immediate recall ban and seizure of products not conforming with standards set by law


Rodriguez also reported that the proposed measure will bar retailers from putting additional price for products purchased through credit cards.

The recommended measure will consider non-issuance of warranty on new products as a prohibited act.

Further, manufacturers are mandated to maintain consumer hotline and other means of communications that will allow buyers of their products to air their concern and complaints. 

 
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