Consumer welfare should be a continuing part of our agenda all year round, rather than a buzzword to discuss only during October or Consumer Welfare Month, Trade Undersecretary for Consumer Protection Atty. Teodoro C. Pascua prompted private and government partners in the country and abroad.

Celebrating the 20th Consumer Welfare Month (CWM) nationwide last October, the Department of Trade and Industry’s Consumer Protection Group (DTI-CPG) took the opportunity to champion consumer welfare through its participation in regional CWM events and chairmanship of a meeting in Myanmar.

“The DTI values and cares for our consumers. So we sustain and ramp up our efforts to reach out to the buying public, get them informed about their rights and responsibilities, drive our businesses to practice fair trade, and gain support from our partners in the government and private sector, even in the ASEAN community,” said CPG Undersecretary Atty. Pascua.

CWM events in PH regions

Last 03 October 2017, the DTI–Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), in partnership with the ConsumerNet–CAR, conducted its 2017 CWM Opening Program and Kapihan to give the public a better understanding of the opportunities, trends, and challenges in digital trade.

CPG Undersecretary Pascua then pointed out to the participants during the said event, “Even if digital transaction provides us ease, we must never forget to remain wise and vigilant. We are susceptible to scams, identity theft, fraud, among others. Hence, we should know and exercise our rights and responsibilities before we click that ‘Add to Cart,’ ‘Buy Now,’ or ‘Proceed to Checkout’ option.”

Other speakers in the Cordillera 2017 CWM Opening Program and Kapihan were Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Assistant Secretary Allan S. Cabanlong, who shared the DICT’s efforts towards achieving cybersecurity, and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Director Rogel Joseph Del Rosario.

On the other hand, DTI–Oriental Mindoro conducted on 12 October 2017 its 2017 Consumer Congress to increase the level of awareness of their stakeholders in various issues and policies affecting consumers’ daily lives.

A highlight of the Congress was the activation of the Local Price Coordinating Council (LPCC) in Oriental Mindoro and oath taking of the Oriental Mindoro Public Market Administrators Association (OMPMAA).

“With the LPCC activated in an area, we ensure a stable supply of and reasonably priced basic and prime goods in the market. In times of calamities or emergencies, the LPCC can also help us monitor and act on prima facie of price manipulation,” CPG Undersecretary Atty. Pascua pointed out.

Also in the list of regional CWM events attended by the Undersecretary was the launching of DTI–Region 6’s first radio consumer education program — ‘Konsyumer Kag Iban Pa sa Rehiyon 6’ — on 13 October 2017.

“Through this radio program, the DTI believes that consumer awareness will notch up. It is an avenue to provide its audience information on their rights and responsibilities, product quality and safety, and frontline government services and projects,” CPG Undersecretary Atty. Pascua said.

‘Konsyumer Kag Iban Pa sa Rehiyon 6’ is regularly aired over Bombo-Radyo Iloilo every Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

16th ASEAN Committee on Consumer Protection (ACCP) Meeting

Before October ends, CPG Undersecretary Atty. Pascua chaired the 16th ACCP Meeting in Yangon, Myanmar from 24 to 26 October 2017.

In the said meeting, he highlighted the growth of e-commerce supported by a techsavvy population and initiatives under the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), the challenges of e-commerce, the need to provide adequate protection to online consumers, and the completion of the ASEAN High-Level Principles on Consumer Protection (AHLP).

He further reported that Department Administrative Orders (DAOs) on granting Bagwis Awards and recognition of consumer organizations (COs) have been finalized and are now pending approval. He also shared that the Philippines is finalizing the procedural guidelines on National Motor Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Program (NMVIMP). The guidelines for the implementation of suggested retail price (SRP), on the other hand, are being drafted.

“We also discussed developing a Self-Assessment Toolkit and ASEAN Handbook on Consumer Protection and Law, meeting with the Chair of the ASEAN Consultative Committee on Standards and Quality (ACCSQ), and establishing an ASEAN Consumer Empowerment Index,” CPG Undersecretary Atty. Pascua added.

The representatives from all ASEAN Member States (AMS) attended the 16th ACCP Meeting.♦