Tackling this pandemic is never an easy feat. With almost the entire country placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) plus bubble later in March, Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Region 2 – Cagayan Valley Consumer Protection Team had its efforts doubled to serve the public amidst the growing number of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the region.

Despite the dangers posed by the virus in the wide open, the Consumer Protection Team, in their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), continues to conduct monitoring activities and engagements with Local Government Units (LGU) and private organizations to strengthen consumer awareness and protection.

As one of the priority concerns, post-audit monitoring of health and safety protocols is intensified in all provinces. For the month of March alone, DTI Region 2 monitored 547 business establishments, belting the highest number of firms and business establishments monitored per month where 81% is in full compliance. This makes a total of 1,004 firms and business establishments monitored for the 1st quarter of 2021 and records an overall compliance rate at around 87%. Non-compliant and partially compliant businesses were endorsed to the LGUs concerned for subsequent inspection and proper action.

This is twinned by the comprehensive monitoring activities to ensure the stability of prices and supply, adherence to fair trade laws, and to look out for the behavior of market variables, overpricing, or market irregularities. A total of 448 business establishments and firms were monitored. Results proved that price and supply are stable, while five businesses were found in violation of fair trade laws and were administratively fined after going through adjudication.

Corollary, successive meetings were held with Local Price Coordinating Councils (LPCCs) of every municipality/city to prep up with the declaration of the ECQ plus bubble and lockdowns in certain areas.

Besides all these, 18 education and information advocacies were laid out both online and in-house with strict observance of health protocols. Included here were the simultaneous fora conducted in celebration of the World Consumer Rights Day, seminars on the Consumer Act of the Philippines (Republic Act 7394) and relevant laws, and a webinar on product standards. Furthermore, regular radio programs are maintained by the DTI provincial offices while the multilateral airing of an on-air – online regular program of DTI-Region 2 is already nearing its official launch.

In these times, DTI-Region 2 and other government agencies work the busiest in providing protection to all consumers, observing all mandatory health protocols to avoid COVID infection at some point.

With respect to DTI’s consumer protection mandate, DTI Region 2 subscribes to what DTI Consumer Protection Group (CPG) Undersecretary Ruth B. Castelo says, “Consumer protection is a 24/7 job. DTI-Region 2 and other regions complement the DTI Consumer Protection programs on monitoring and enforcement on critical products, consumer education, and continued partnerships with consumer groups.”

DTI-Region 2 Regional Director Romleah Juliet P. Ocampo also adds, “the reason for our strengthened activities, particularly at this time, is because we believe that public service cannot be impeded by the virus and the DTI-Region 2 Consumer Protection Team is true to this.” For consumer-related concerns and queries, send an email to ConsumerCare@dti.gov.ph or CPAB@dti.gov.ph. ♦

Date of Release: 30 April 2021