Efficient market monitoring, surveillance and enforcement are the primary cornerstones of a successful consumer protection policy, the country’s trade chief said.

Sec Lopez at Project ET
DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez speaks at the Project Execution Team (ET) Launch

“These elements play a significant role in ensuring the proper functioning of fair and open competition, as businesses require a level-playing field to innovate and grow,” said Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez at the launching of Project Execution Team (ET) on 1 August.

DTI’s Project ET aims to strengthen monitoring and enforcement of Fair Trade Laws, as managed by DTI’s Consumer Protection Group (CPG), with support from Regional Operations Group (ROG), Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (FTEB) and Bureau of Philippine Standards (BPS).

“We envisioned Project ET to implement DTI’s enforcement, adjudication and quick response activities and programs,” Sec. Lopez said.

He stressed that the enactment of the Consumer Act of the Philippines (RA 7394), the Product Standards Law (RA 4109) and other Fair Trade Laws to establish a standard of conduct for businesses and industries aligns with the President Rodrigo Duterte’s marching order to safeguard the security, public order and safety of Filipinos.

Such standard will not only ensure compliance with required standards and technical regulations as mandated by law. It will also protect the best interest of the consumers and promote their general welfare, according to Sec Lopez.

CPG Trade Undersecretary Ted Pascua said that Project ET “engages professional organization to strengthen consumer redress mechanisms.”

Sec. Lopez noted that the strict enforcement of laws will help address current issues affecting Filipino consumers, including price surges and irregularities in price commodities, as well as fraudulent, deceptive and manipulative schemes in buying products or services.

Prior to launching Project ET, DTI has covered 73.25% or 879 out of 1,200 firms targeted for monitoring. Of these monitored firms, 236 were issued with notices of violation (NOVs), 82 of which were given formal charges.

As of July 2017, a total of 36,274 alleged violative products were seized or confiscated amounting to almost PhP 2.1 million. Most of these products were construction materials, electrical supplies and appliances, sanitary wares and lighters.

The Project ET will promote active compliance with various trade and industry laws of erring business establishments, as well as increase consumer awareness on trade malpractices.

Sec. Lopez strongly urged consumers to remain vigilant and proactively report to DTI any fraud and misconduct in the market today.

“We need to do more than our share to make the Philippine consumer environment a more productive and safer place for the growth of the economy,” he added.

DTI likewise called on consumers to be alert against excessive pricing, wrong labelling, incorrect weight and measure and substandard or poor quality products and services.