A committee at the House of Representatives has approved a proposed measure which seeks to strengthen the rights of consumers and protect them from illegal activities, such as deceptive advertisements, Internet scams, and other fraudulent schemes.
The House Committee on Trade and Industry, chaired by Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar, approved the substitute bill of 12 measures that will amend Republic Act No. 7394 or the Consumer Act of the Philippines.
Substituted by the bill were House Bills No. 4433 and 5072 of Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian along with HBs No. 101, 200, 726, 874, 1381, 1415, 1428, 1634, 2535, and 5472.
Among the policies taken from Gatchalian’s bill was the protection of consumers in the new forms of media that are currently not included in 23-year-old Consumer Act, namely Internet, mobile phones, and other similar electronic devices.
Such measure is necessary to safeguard unsuspecting consumers from various exploitation and forms of false, deceptive or misleading advertising fed through different emerging technologies.
Gatchalian, who is a member of House Committee on Trade and Industry, earlier said the government should hasten the passage of proposed amendments in the Consumer Act since many of its provisions are no longer applicable and adequate to address the present situations.
“Amending RA 7394 will ensure the protection of the interest of the consumers, promote general welfare and to establish standards of conduct for business and industry,” he added.
Products with foreign language label will also be required to have an English or Filipino translation to provide consumers proper guidance on its content and origin, and enable authorities to determine whether the product has complied with all the other labeling requirements.
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The proposed bill shall also strengthen the prohibition on unfair sale practices, such as but not limited to transactions grossly that are greatly disadvantageous to consumers and completely deprives them of the opportunity to bargain on equal footing.
Such unfair practice also includes aggressive marketing practices that put significant constraints on the average consumer’s freedom of choice.
It is also specified in the proposed bill basic consumer rights that needs to be observed and protected, namely:
1) Right to Basic Needs
2) Right to Choose
3) Right to Representation
4) Right to Redress
5) Right to Consumer Education
6) Right to Safety
7) Right to Healthy Environment
8) Right to Information
Consequently, a list on the responsibilities of consumers in making transactions were stated in the bill. These are the following:
1) Critical Awareness
3) Social Protection
4) Environmental Awareness
Several chain distribution plans or pseud-investment marketing schemes that aims to prey on consumers, namely the pyramid sales scheme, Ponzi scheme, telemarketing fraud and technology fraud were also named in the bill.