PH scores high in ASEAN consumer empowerment index

Published February 25, 2021, 6:00 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Filipino consumers are moderately empowered with a high score of 93 higher than the ASEAN average of 82, according to the first ASEAN Consumer Empowerment Index (ACEI).

The ASEAN Consumer Empowerment Index (ACEI) under the ASEAN Strategic Action Plan on Consumer Protection (ASAPCP) 2016-2025 seeks to measure the national level of consumer empowerment in each ASEAN member states. The ACEI survey is composed of questions intended to test the knowledge of consumers about basic consumer rights and responsibilities, consumer laws, and their ability to make informed decisions and to know their buying behavior. 

Photographer: Geric Cruz/Bloomberg

Based on the ACEI 2020 report, a total of 7,185 respondents across all member states participated in the survey. Scoring a total of 82.9 out of 130, the first ACEI stands at 63.7 percent meaning consumers across the region, on an average are moderately empowered. 

For the ACEI Philippine survey, it showed that Filipino consumers are moderately empowered scoring 93 out of 130 questions or 71.54 percent in all three domains.  The ASEAN average score is 82.90 at 63.77 percent.

On the consumer awareness category, the data showed that respondents were highly aware of their consumer rights and business obligations with a score of 27; however, they have low awareness level on the various consumer advocacy and other education programs. 

Filipino consumers scored highest in identifying deceptive business practices and unfair contracts but scored lowest in comparing products (price, terms and conditions, and label) before making a purchase.

On the consumer behavior category, the Philippines scored 34 out of 45. It also showed that Filipinos are assertive in seeking redress regarding their complaints. On skills, the Philippines got a score of 32 out of 45.

According to the survey, the Philippines’ relatively high scores for the Philippines point to the competence of Filipino consumers in detecting threats against their rights and interests. The survey, however, recommended of continued efforts are recommended to ensure accurate information and adequate protection. The survey further said that Philippines social and online media could be further utilized for awareness raising initiatives across different sectoral requirements. Partnerships with academic institutions could also be increasingly explored and need for activate additional avenues for consumer redress.

Among ASEAN countries, Thailand scored the highest at 107 or 82.31 percent followed by Malaysia with 94.48 score at 72.54. The Philippines was in the third slot. Brunei scored 83, Vietnam 72.96, Myanmar 80.95, Lao PDR 77.97, Indonesia 72.70, Singapore 70.79, and Cambodia 68.85.

“The DTI is pleased about the ACEI 2020 results yet we do take note of the areas where the DTI needs to improve on. The department shall maximize the available platforms to reach out to more consumers and deepen their awareness on programs created and operated for them for their protection,” CPG Undersecretary Ruth B. Castelo said.

The ACEI country survey was successfully facilitated by the DTI Consumer Protection Group (CPG)’s Consumer Policy and Advocacy Bureau in coordination with its Regional Operations Group gathering a total of 1,010 responses. The survey was administered through the conduct of face-to-face interviews and through online dissemination of the survey to reach consumers residing in the remote parts of the country. The ACEI county survey was conducted from January 2020 to March 2020.