Ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance. To ensure that online sellers are informed of relevant laws that affect their businesses, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), together with the Departments of Agriculture (DA), Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Health (DOH), National Privacy Commission (NPC), and Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL), recently outlined the various laws and regulations in the sale, distribution, and marketing of products on the internet through the Joint Administrative Order (JAO) No. 22-01.

JAO No. 22-01 provides a ‘non-exhaustive’ list of at least 50 categories of products that are prohibited or regulated. The JAO seeks to remind all online businesses—whether platforms, e-retailers, or merchants that sell over the internet–that laws, rules, and regulations that apply to physical stores likewise apply to online stores.

In 2021, DTI received over 12,000 complaints against online businesses ranging from deceptive products, to the sale of counterfeit or pirated products, mostly on digital platforms and social media marketplaces.  Under the JAO, all platforms need to verify if the goods sold by their merchants are regulated, prohibited, original, genuine, licensed, or unexpired.

DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said, “All digital platforms including social media marketplaces such as Facebook/Meta, Instagram, Viber, Lazada, Shopee, Carousell, among others, must comply with all existing laws, rules, and regulations. They need to put in place strict protocols to prevent recidivists or those previously found administratively liable from selling again.”

With the accelerated adoption of e-commerce, regulators have seen the proliferation of items that are prohibited for sale without license or permit, among which are fertilizers, chainsaws, medicines, and consumer products under the DTI-Bureau of Philippine Standards (BPS) mandatory list. 

Recently, the National Telecommunication Commission (NTC) and DTI met with marketplace platforms and telcos to address the online sale of repeaters, portable cell site equipment signal Jammers.  Repeaters are not allowed to be sold without license from the NTC to prevent harmful interference to cellular mobile networks and promote the efficient use of radio frequency spectrum. 

Under NTC Memorandum Order 01-02-2013, any person, natural or juridical, selling, purchasing, importing, possessing, or using GSM repeaters, and portable cell sites, portable radio equipment/devices shall be dealt with in accordance with the law.

“As we encourage consumers to buy online, we must ensure that products sold are safe and of high quality, and that consumers are protected from unscrupulous sellers. We strongly urge the e-commerce marketplace platforms to work with government regulators to establish a mechanism to immediately remove or take down listings of prohibited or regulated products,” the Trade Secretary emphasized.

He added, “Under the JAO, government agencies are encouraged to partner with marketplace platforms and use technology to facilitate information transfer using artificial intelligence (AI).” ♦

Date of Release: 14 March 2022