MANILA (19 June 2020) — As key sectors in the economy gradually reopen amid easing quarantine restrictions, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Thursday appealed to concerned government agencies to strengthen consumer policies to deter possible abuses by unscrupulous businesses.

Habang unti-unti pong nagbubukas ang ilang sektor ng ating ekonomiya, sana po ay patuloy rin nating palakasin pa ang mga proteksyon para sa kapakanan ng mga Filipino consumers upang mapagaan ang kanilang pinapasan lalo na sa panahong ito (While some sectors of the economy gradually reopen, I hope that we continue to intensify protection for Filipino consumers to ease their burdens, especially at this time),” Go said.

“Kailangan po nila ng proteksyon lalo na at limitado pa ang income ng marami sa ating mga mamimili dahil ngayon pa lamang sila nakababalik ng trabaho habang ang iba naman ay hindi pa pinapayagang makabalik ng trabaho o hanapbuhay (Consumers needed protection as most of them still have limited income because they are just now returning to work, while others are not yet permitted to return to their jobs),” he added.

He said one of the most important measures that concerned agencies needed to further intensify is their price monitoring operations on basic goods and services, particularly those traded online.

On the latter, Go lauded the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for assuring that it will closely monitor the prices of goods and services sold online and ensure that online buyers are protected from profiteering and other fraudulent business practices using the internet.

The assurance was made by DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez last June 12 during the “Cabinet Report sa Teleradyo” program after the agency recognized that the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic and the anticipated transition to the “New Normal” would lead to increased use of online transactions.

DTI is presently providing free webinars, such as the “Making Your Business Digital”, for small businesses on how to effectively and safely conduct business online.

The agency also maintains a four-digit hotline, 1348, where consumers and the general public may report any complaint about price and quality of goods and services sold and bought online.

In the meantime, concerned government agencies continue to implement price controls to prevent traders and businesses from taking advantage of the Covid-19 emergency.

The Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Bantay Presyo Task Force continues to conduct price monitoring operations in all regions of the country, and issues notices of violations to retailers found to be overpricing.

The Food and Drug Authority (FDA) has also inspected 133 establishments and, in coordination with the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, has seized and confiscated various products amounting to PHP 30.7 million for violating the Price Act and RA No. 9711, or the FDA Act of 2009.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases has also issued Resolution No. 44, which seeks the formulation of a Joint Memorandum Circular or issuances strengthening the role of Local Price Coordinating Councils in adopting a whole-of-nation approach in drafting policies to be implemented by local government units/local chief executives (LGUs/LCEs) in their mandate and functions of price monitoring, price enforcement, and price adjudication.

“For the economy to recover, consumer rights and welfare must be upheld as they are the main drivers of the economy. We must continue to build strong and more inclusive consumer protection measures by addressing misinformation and unfair practices as the economy recover from the effects of Covid-19,” Go said. (ia/PNA