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As swindlers continue to victimize consumers by offering lies and deception just to suck in their hardearned money, the Department of Trade and Industry – Lanao del Norte Provincial Office has warned anew the public to be vigilant and be well-informed on text messaging scams.

The warning has to be broadcast again as there were a number of individuals had personally visited DTI and inquired on the authenticity of the text messages they received informing them that they won several hundred thousand pesos, or even a million pesos from a raffle draw facilitated by a foundation or other private group. Others verified the text message they received by calling the DTI landline.

“Since the government alone could not totally end the text scam, and the proposed measures to strengthen the protection of mobile phone subscribers are still hanging, the consuming public should be cautioned not to right away believe on the text messages they received that they won. They must verify this first to appropriate agencies, or to the service providers and not just give in to the demand of the swindlers.”, Provincial Director Ruel B. Paclipan advised.

A text message is not legitimate or a scam when an advisory comes from an 11-digit mobile phone number. According to the telecommunication companies or telcos, authentic advisories are labeled accordingly and will not originate from an unidentified 11-digit mobile phone number.

Other text messages intend to extort money or load credits by tricking the consumers. For example, “Network Advisory: Your postpaid account has been wrongly charged with Php500 for data roaming. To correct this, please text 200 to 2917xxxxxxx. Thank you.”

Another example is the call for help from relative or family member who is in trouble. The “relative” or „family member” allegedly encountered problems while on a trip and requests for some form of monetary assistance often through load credits.

By adding the number “2” before the 10-digit cell phone number of the recipient, the unsuspecting subscriber would have done a Share-A-Load transaction, thus the sum of 200 pesos in the examples above would be transferred or credited to the prepaid number to which the message was sent to.

On winning alleged raffle draws, the public should bear in mind that if they did not join any raffle contest, they should not immediately believe any text message about winning it. The scam aims to trick customers to give them money or load credits in exchange for the non-existent raffle prize.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), a government entity under the Department of Transportation and Communications with a mandate to regulate mobile services, has previously admitted the difficulty in stopping scammers because when they block a certain SIM (subscriber identity module) from sending messages, they can just get a new one.

Over sixty individuals representing hardware stores, construction firms and local government units (LGUs) have attended the Standardization and Conformity Assessment Briefing conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry – Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (DTI-FTEB).

Held in Kelsey’s Café on 30 August 2017, the said briefing aims to educate hardware stores, construction firms and the local government on the value of standards and the importance of complying with the requirements of mandatory products as provided by law.

With the incoming rehabilitation of Marawi City after the siege, designated government agencies must ensure that mandatory construction supplies on sale are duly certified by the Bureau of Philippine Standards (BPS) and that winning Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board (PCAB)-accredited contractors shall purchase and utilize these BPS-certified products.

On one hand, the local government units (LGUs) as well, particularly the purchasing personnel shall make sure that technical specifications of the mandatory construction materials must comply with the Philippine National Standards (PNS) requirements.

And in order to give fair treatment to establishments selling mandatory products, it is but appropriate for the concerned government agency to inform them on the value of standardization and why should they conform to the requirements of the mandatory product set by the legally accepted standard prior to the conduct of enforcement activity.

Pursuant to DAO 02:2007, Defining the Responsibilities and Liabilities of Manufacturers, Importers, Traders, Wholesalers, Distributors, Retailers, Service Providers and or their Agents, with Regard to Products/Services Covered by Philippine Standard Certification Mark Schemes, it is also fitting for the business owners to be reminded once again about their responsibilities and liabilities.

The Standardization and Conformity Assessment Briefing also hopes that no confiscations will be made nor sanction to wholesalers / retailers during enforcement and that mutual understanding between the enforcers and the establishment prevail.

Eight Associations of Barangay Captains or ABC have been empowered as consumers by the Department of Trade and Industry – Lanao del Norte Provincial Office for the period February to August this year, or an equivalent of more than a hundred empowered Barangay Captains in Iligan, Kauswagan, Bacolod, Maigo, Kolambugan, Baroy, Lala and Kapatagan.

The series of Barangay Awareness-Raising Campaign for Consumer Empowerment (BARCCE), which was held in collaboration with the above-mentioned local government units (LGUs), is in response to the statement of DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez with regard to the latest Pulse Asia Survey reflecting a 78% level of consumer awareness in 2016.

Secretary Lopez said, “The result should not be a source of complacency, but instead a motivation to improve even more our service to our consumers.”

Aside from augmenting the level of awareness on consumerism and empowering consumers in asserting their rights, BARCCE hopes to eliminate the traditional perception that when it comes to the price and supply of all basic necessities and prime commodities, and in protecting consumers as a whole, DTI is the only government agency to lean on to.

As one Barangay Captain has declared after the campaign, “Sir, I have a new meaning for DTI – Dili Tanan Inyoha.”

BARCCE likewise provides a venue to enjoin and mobilize LGUs in establishing consumer protection mechanism especially in the barangays.

Topics in BARCCE include the eight basic Consumer Rights and five Consumer Responsibilities, the salient features of the Consumer Act of the Philippines, the Price Act, Expanded Senior Citizens Act and the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons. Insights on Handling Complaints are taken as well.

Key officers and members of Persons With Disability Affairs Office (PDAO) has taken a step forward to form a legitimate consumer organization after undergoing a consumer education seminar recently conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry – Lanao del Norte Provincial Office.

Mr. Jerson L. Tanghian, the current Head of PDAO – Iligan and also the President of PWD of Iligan Federated Organization or PIFO, has expressed his commitment in behalf of the group to pursue the accreditation of PIFO as a consumer organization primarily representing and being the voice of PWD on consumer-related issues and concerns particularly in the implementation of RA 9442 or the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons, and Other Purposes.

He said, “As members of our society, the law grants us with the rights and privileges to improve our well-being yet some irresponsible people are depriving a great number of PWD of these benefits, and worst, the PWD are just being passive or submissive to these malpractices. And this should be brought to the attention of the proper authorities for their appropriate actions.”

A Consumer Organization is an organized group of consumers where membership is voluntary and whose primary objective is to protect consumers against deceptive, unfair and unconscionable trade acts and practices and other acts or omissions prejudicial or detrimental to the interests of consumers.

Consumer Organizations are being accredited to ensure that the consumer sector is represented by legitimate consumer organizations in hearings and/or investigations, and in government policy-making bodies.

The Department of Trade and Industry Bukidnon Provincial Office (DTI-BUK), in collaboration with Washington-based international economic development organization Agricultural Cooperative Development International and Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance (ACDI/VOCA) gathered 59 Bukidnon Coffee Industry prime movers in Valencia City on May 15 to discuss great marketing opportunities and recognize several of the province’s coffee industry achievements.

Thelonnious Trimmell, ACDI/VOCA’s Chief of Party, explained the details regarding the First “Kape Pilipino” Coffee Cupping Competition held in Cavite City, Philippines last March, adding that through the competition, two of Bukidnon’s coffee producers were given the chance to attend the Global Specialty Coffee Expo held in Seattle, Washington last April 19 to 30.

Aside from this, he also explained a few points about the Q-Grader course and presented some of the most noted coffee market opportunities which Bukidnon’s Coffee Industry can take advantage of.

Thelonnious Trimmell of ACDI/VOCA at the Bukidnon Coffee event.
Thelonnious Trimmell, ACDI/VOCA’s Chief of Party, speaking at the Bukidnon Coffee Industry Cluster event in Valencia City last May 15.

There are two main markets for coffee: there’s the specialty coffee market and the commercial coffee market. The specialty coffee market is what we’re really trying to promote here in the Philippines, based on the specialty coffee associations of America’s cupping system. People buy these kinds of coffee based on the score they receive because of the cupping process that it went through” Trimmell explained.

While the commercial coffee market takes 90 percent or most of the whole buying market, Trimmell emphasized that it has not gone through so much changes in its pricing as compared to how drastic the historic price fluctuations specialty coffee market went through over the years.

Coffee display at Bukidnon Coffee Industry Cluster event.
One of the coffee displays at the Bukidnon Coffee Industry Cluster event in Valencia City last May 15.

He also added that it is very critical for Bukidnon’s Coffee Industry Cluster to learn how to take care of their specialty coffee. More often than not, farmers and producers alike are easily swayed to shift in producing other commodities especially when the price for specialty coffee goes down. This shift in commodity choice can threaten the existence of specialty coffee varieties due to the decrease in its production and supply.

“We want to ensure that farmers or producers know how to evaluate their coffee. Buyers buy coffee based on the evaluation of cupping stores, to pay for the right price of that coffee. It is important that farmers know what they have and the value of their coffee. It is one of our goals to train people to know how to evaluate coffee, to understand its attributes and its defects and then come up with that cupping score,” he said.

DTI Compostela PD Lucky Siegfred Balleque at the Bukidnon Coffee event.
DTI-Compostella Valley Provincial Director Lucky Siegfred Balleque at the Bukidnon Coffee Industry Cluster event in Valencia City last May 15.

DTI-Compostella Valley Provincial Director Lucky Siegfred Balleque recommended that participating groups and agencies can consider supporting the needs of the coffee industry such as the provision of high-quality equipment made by internationally-known brands, the enhancement of product packaging which will allow local brands to compete internationally, the implementation of the cupping culture in line with the number of Q-graders produced in the country, among others.

Both winners of the Cupping Competition in Cavite City, Philippines - Imelda Mendoza, the president of the Rural Improvement Club (RIC) Federation of Kape Maramag, and Bae Inadlawan also known as Adelina Tarino, the Manager of Indahig Tribal Multi-Purpose Cooperative (ITMPC).

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