Ladies and gentlemen, good morning po and happy Consumer Welfare Month!

First of all, I congratulate our very own Consumer Policy and Advocacy Bureau (CPAB) of the Consumer Protection Group (CPG) for spearheading today’s Bagwis E-Convention, which highlights and promotes the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Bagwis Award Program. Through this program, we are giving due recognition to establishments that uphold the rights of consumers and practice responsible business systems where consumers indeed get value for their money.

Our main objective for the DTI Bagwis Program centers on promoting the highest level of business ethics while upholding a fair and honest marketplace of the awarded retail establishments. The establishments qualified for this program include supermarkets, department stores, hardware stores, and even appliance stores, among others. Additionally, this encourages the setting up of Consumer Welfare Desks (CWDs) or an equivalent customer relations office that will provide information to consumers and serve as a mechanism for the speedy resolution of complaints.

From 2006 up until August of this year, there are a total of 8,181 Bagwis Awardees nationwide. And today, we will be awarding new sets of awardees for 2020 and 2021 from the National Capital Region and other regions in the country.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the country last year, DTI has since been at the forefront of safeguarding consumer welfare and ensuring the availability of reasonably priced goods and services in the country. Kung maaalala po ninyo pati ‘yung presyo ng mga Christmas Noche Buena products, napakiusapan natin ang mga kumpanya na hindi magtaas [ng presyo] at sila po ay nakisama sa sambayanan at nang dahil na rin sa pandemiya they kept their prices similar to the 2019 prices. We have also undertaken various initiatives and programs that ensure consumers’ access to relevant and updated information. To adapt to the pandemic’s unprecedented crisis, we expanded our range in digitalization and utilized the opportunities from the rising digital economy and consumers.

As the government’s economic catalyst in enabling business and empowering consumers, DTI further recognizes the need to revolutionize the online domain, ensure economic opportunities for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and provide reliable products and services to the general public. Hence, DTI-CPG leads the nation’s annual celebration of the Consumer Welfare Month, which aims to rise against the existing digital divide that has been more eminent in the new normal. Furthermore, it puts forward its intent to include vulnerable sectors in the country’s digital transition amidst the COVID pandemic.

We, in DTI, remain committed to maintaining our support for technological transformation and upgrades, especially in online markets and e-commerce platforms. We have been doing a lot of programs since last year to digitalize MSMEs. We acknowledge the primary role of online institutions in providing economic opportunities to business and continued protection to consumers. That’s why this year’s Consumer Welfare Month theme, “Digital Consumer: The New Normal” is a pledge that the DTI will continue in protecting today’s digital consumers through its thrusts on digital reform.

With the aim of helping consumers become smart buyers of affordable basic necessities and prime commodities (BNPCs) online, we have been offering a series of free webinars and programs to our consumers. The Consumer Care Webinar, for example, has been offering twice-a-week virtual assemblies for consumers and the business sector that is geared towards boosting government initiatives for consumer protection and business sustainability.

Meanwhile, the Diskwento Caravan is DTI’s long-standing program done in cooperation with the manufacturers and retailers of BNPCs. It is a rolling store where BNPC manufacturers can sell their products directly to consumers at prices lower than their SRPs.

Aside from raising consumer awareness and protection, part of DTI’s mandate is to ensure stability of supply and fair prices of basic necessities and prime commodities (BNPCs). Thus, DTI has intensified the conduct of its price monitoring activities. We monitor prices to determine the trends and identify causes of market irregularities. This price data then serves as the basis for policy formulation and program development to secure price stability and supply adequacy. And in this regard, DTI developed e-Presyo, our online price monitoring system where consumers can check for the SRPs and prevailing prices of BNPCs that are being monitored nationwide. The e-Presyo system promotes consumer empowerment through its weekly collection of price data and the processing of reports from DTI’s regional and provincial offices.

As we continue to face the challenges brought about by the pandemic, it is part of our main priorities to provide various means of support and economic relief to our business sector. We have the COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) program under our microfinancing arm, the Small Business Corporation (SBCorp), which offers loans to MSMEs affected by the pandemic. The CARES program offers loans with no collateral requirement, at zero interest rate, and with a grace period of up to 12 months, thus helping businesses get back on their feet. As you have heard, we are also having a program for companies affected by pandemic for them to fulfill their 13th month obligation to their employees.

Rest assured that it’s not just DTI who has your back in this effort to help our local micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), but rather the entire government. Aligned with the vision of our President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, we regard MSMEs to be a vital component in our country’s “economic activity, job creation, and poverty reduction.”

To our Bagwis Awardees present today, congratulations to all of you! May you continue to demonstrate integrity in your businesses as well as practice responsible business systems in the years ahead.

Lastly, I encourage everyone to support our local MSMEs. Samahan niyo po kami, lalo na po sa ating mga kasama sa ROG, CPG, at TPG sa pag-develop at pagpapasigla ng mga negosyo ng ating MSMEs. Samahan niyo po kami dito dahil ang DTI ay muling maibabalik ang sigla sa ating ekonomiya kung tayo ay magsasama-sama, sa pamamaraan ng pagtangkilik sa sarili nating mga produkto at serbisyo ng ating mga MSMEs. Sama-sama po tayong mag-build back better sa mas maayos na kinabukasan pagkatapos nitong pandemiya. Tingin po natin, tayo ay papalapit na sa pagsugpo ng pandemiya. Nandiyan na po ang bakuna, ibang non-vaccine pharmaceutical medicines, at ating pong ineencourage ang regular testing kung makakaya po natin at sana po ito ay masuportahan din ng ating pamahalaan. Ang pagbibigay ng mga antigen test kits, of course ‘yung pasadong brand para ang bawat mamamayan, moving into the New Normal, will be testing themselves. Para bago lumabas o pumnta sa mataong lugar ay siguradong hindi sila makakahawa at sila po ay negative. Ayan po ang iba pang pamamaraaan, kasama nitong pagbubukas muli ng ating mga sektor para mabalik ang maraming trabaho at kabuhayan ng bawat Pilipino. Ito po ay patungo sa mas masayang Kapaskuhan at susunod na Bagong Taon.Maraming salamat po, at mabuhay tayong lahat!

Date of Release: 22 October 2021