Under the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) shall endeavor to reduce inequality and poverty by expanding economic opportunities in industry and services, and by increasing the access particularly of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), cooperatives and overseas Filipinos (OFs) to these opportunities.

To attain these sector outcomes by 2022, one of DTI’s goals is to ensure consumer access to safe and quality goods and services by developing policies and programs with the end goal of protecting the consumer against deceptive, unfair, and unconscionable sales act and practices.

For 2020, the DTI’s Consumer Protection Group (CPG) doubled its efforts in strengthening consumer protection amidst the declaration of a state of emergency due to COVID-19.

“We have been working closely with relevant government agencies and private organizations to ensure that the policies we create are responsive to the needs of the business sector, and more importantly of, the consumers”, CPG Undersecretary Ruth B. Castelo explained.

To address consumer queries and ensure their safety while implementing a community quarantine, the DTI-CPG developed a total of 16 policies and implemented them accordingly.

Listed below are policies that were approved by the Secretary of Trade and Industry Ramon M. Lopez to further protect consumers:

Joint Memorandum Circular No. 20-03 or the “Guidelines on the Implementation of Joint DOH-DTI-DA-DOJ-BOC Circular No. 001 on Seizure and Related Proceedings for Goods Necessary to Address the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Pursuant to Republic Act 7581, as Amended by RA 10623, otherwise known as the Price Act, and RA 10863, otherwise known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, in relation to RA 11469, otherwise known as the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act provides that seizure, inventory, and disposal of goods that have been the subject of relevant confiscation by Law Enforcement Authorities during the duration of the declared State of Public Health Emergency is in order, uniformly applied, and properly recorded and accounted for by concerned officials and personnel.

Memorandum Circular No. 20-07 or the “Anti-Hoarding and Anti-Panic Buying” was created to develop, adopt and promulgate measures to stabilize prices at reasonable levels and establish a mechanism that will readily protect consumers from inadequate supply and unreasonable price increases on occasions of calamities, emergencies, and like occurrences.

Memorandum Circular No. 20-09 or the “Pagpapahalaga sa Mga Senior Citizens” is about the rights of senior citizens to take their proper place in society and make it a concern of the family, community, and, the government shall be recognized; the improvement of the total well-being of the elderly and their full participation in society, considering that senior citizens are an integral part of Philippine society shall be supported; the valued Filipino tradition of caring for the senior citizens by their families and the communities they live with shall be encouraged and re-affirmed.

Memorandum Circular No. 20-10 or the “Supplemental Anti-Hoarding and Anti-Panic Buying Directive” states that any person, natural or juridical, who buys, or sells or offers for sale any of the additional vital or essential goods (regardless of brand) are hereby required to limit the quantity of the sales and purchase thereof.

Memorandum Circular No. 20-12 or the “Guidelines on the Concessions on Residential Rents; Commercial Rents of MSMEs” was created to issue guidelines to implement a directive for a thirty (30) day grace period to commercial rents falling upon MSMEs within the period of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), without incurring interests, penalties, fees, and other charges.

Memorandum Circular No. 20-29 or the “Supplemental Guidelines on the Concessions on Residential Rents and Commercial Rents” aims to provide fair and just concessions to Filipinos and businesses alike during the COVID-19 public health emergency while under a Community Quarantine without incurring interests, penalties, fees, or other charges.

Memorandum Circular No. 20-30 or the “Guidelines on Refund of Payments Made for Events Affected by the State of Public Health Emergency” is in keeping with the spirit of Bayanihan, wherein the party in receipt of the unutilized advance payment for a personal or work-related event has the moral obligation and social responsibility to refund the same or offer a fair concession agreed upon by both parties.

Memorandum Circular No. 20-31 or the “Amendment to the Supplemental Guidelines on the Concession on Residential Rents and Commercial Rents” aims to clarify when the thirty (30) day grace period shall commence to ensure the uniform understanding and application of this concession and further reinforce the Bayanihan spirit to assist sectors affected by the pandemic.

Memorandum Circular No. 20-36 or the “Lifting the Quantity Limits of Products set by the ‘Anti-Hoarding and Anti-Panic Buying’ Memorandum Circulars” intends to invigorate and restore economic activities and allow businesses a fair return on their investments while balancing the health of the people.

Memorandum Circular No. 20-37 or the “Guidelines on the Implementation of Minimum Health Protocol for Dine-in Services by Restaurants and Fast Food Establishments” was issued for the information, guidance, and compliance of Dine-in Services by Restaurants and Fast Food Establishments with the proper health protocols set by DTI, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and Department of Tourism (DOT). 

Memorandum Circular No. 20-54 or the “Lifting the Quantity Limits for the Remaining Products Covered by Memorandum Circular No. 20-36” was developed since manufacturers and retailers of vital or essential goods have likewise assured the DTI that their supply is now more than sufficient to cover consumer demand during the period of the COVID-19 public health emergency, which was confirmed through regular monitoring activities.

Memorandum Circular No. 20-59 or the “Providing the Rules on Gym/Fitness Center and Sports Facility Royalty Fees and Membership Fees During the Period the Establishments Were Temporarily Not Allowed to Operate Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic” specifies the rules on fees while consistently upholding the interest and general welfare of consumers.

Joint Memorandum Circular No. 20-01 or the “Price Freeze under a State of Calamity Throughout the PH due to COVID-19” was issued to strengthen the authority of the implementing agencies of the Price Act to ensure that prices of basic necessities were automatically frozen at their prevailing prices in areas declared under State of Calamity.

Department Administrative Order No. 20-02 or the “Revised Rules of Mediation and Adjudication of Consumer Complaints” was created to re-adjust the periods prescribed in the mediation and adjudication processes so that the quality of services dispensed by the offices concerned may not be compromised for more efficient, expedient, and convenient disposition of cases.

Department Administrative Order No. 20-05 or the “Development of a Philippine Online Dispute Resolution System (PODRS)” specifies the set-up of the web-based consumer complaint portal of the country where consumers can file a complaint and seek redress concerning the product purchased or services availed either online or offline from a business establishment or platform located in the Philippines.

Department Administrative Order No. 20-07 or the “Revised Guidelines on the Recognition of Consumer Organizations (COSs)” was created to revitalize the engagement of consumer organizations in consumer-related activities and programs.

During the pandemic last 2020, the DTI-CPG’s Consumer Policy and Advocacy Bureau (CPAB) began the Consumer Care Webinar Series (CCWS) to present these new policies, which address the concerns of business and consumers. The CCWS is a virtual assembly for consumers to understand how they are protected through government policies, programs, and activities. “Through the webinar series, consumers virtually participate to become more aware of their rights, specifically on their rights to information and education. As such, the consumer will be protected against fraudulent, dishonest, or misleading transactions.”, CPG Undersecretary Castelo added.

For more information, consumers may visit the DTI website at www.dti.gov.ph or may call Consumer Care Hotline at DTI (1-384) or email at consumercare@dti.gov.ph. ♦

Date of Release: 23 April 2021