Tackling this pandemic is never an easy feat. With almost the entire country placed under the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) + bubble later in March, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Region 2 Consumer Protection Team had its efforts doubled to serve the public amidst the growing number of 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), casts around for its monitoring activities and engagements with Local Government Units (LGUs) and 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 (BEs), belting the highest number of firms and BEs monitored per month where 81% of which are in full compliance. This makes a total of 1004 firms and BEs 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, however, 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 + 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 forums conducted in celebration of World Consumer Rights Day, seminars on the Consumer Act (RA 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.

With respect to DTI’s consumer protection mandate, DTI-Region 2 subscribes to what Undersectratry Ruth B. Castelo coined: “Consumer Protection is a 24/7 job.” Hence these efforts, because public service cannot be impeded by the virus and DTI-Region 2 Consumer Protection Team remains true to this.♦

Date of Release: 13 April 2021