To enable a better marketplace and protect consumers from unfair trade practices, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) continues its monitoring and enforcement activities in various business establishments.
The DTI, through its Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (FTEB), reported that it has monitored from January to February this year 319 firms in the National Capital Region — with 32 firms issued with Notices of Violation (NOVs).
Of the 32 firms issued with NOVs, there were 19 issued with formal charges and 18 penalized.
DTI-FTEB Director-in-Charge Ferdinand Manfoste elaborated that manufacturers and retailers who sold basic necessities and prime commodities at undue prices and without price tags were issued with Show Cause Orders (SCOs) and directed to explain before the DTI in 48 hours.
“When we did not receive any response or explanation from the manufacturers and retailers, we issued them another SCO. But there were cases wherein they still failed to respond, so the FTEB’s Enforcement Division served them NOVs,” he continued.
Doing so is in pursuance of Republic Act No. 7581 or the Price Act, which gives the DTI jurisdiction to ensure that the prices of basic necessities and prime commodities are at reasonable levels; and of Republic Act No. 71 or the Price Tag Law, which requires that all consumer products sold in retail to the public shall have appropriate price tag, label, or marking indicating their prices and shall not be sold at a higher price than that stated on the price tag.
Both laws protect consumers from illegal acts of price manipulation, such as hoarding, profiteering, and cartel.
Meanwhile, the director-in-charge also told that those products without Philippine Standard (PS) and Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) marks and the required labeling according to their relevant Philippine National Standards (PNS) were confiscated during their monitoring. The manufacturers, importers, and distributors who sold such were issued then with NOVs.
Bureau of Philippine Standards (BPS) Officer-in-Charge Atty. Ernesto V. Perez stressed that as stated in Republic Act No. 4109 or the Standards Law, the distribution or sale of any product that does not conform to the BPS Product Certification Scheme and required and applicable PNS quality or safety standards and tests is prohibited.
There are 72 products under the BPS Product Certification Scheme, and these are classified into three groups, namely: Electrical and Electronic Products, Mechanical/Building and Construction Materials, and Chemical and other Consumer Products.
“The DTI encourages our manufacturers, importers, and distributors to sell only those critical products that passed quality and safety tests. More so, the presence of the required labeling and PS and ICC marks indicates that their products are reliable and safe for use," Atty. Perez added.
Further, DTI-Consumer Protection Group Undersecretary Atty. Teodoro C. Pascua ensured that the DTI will pursue and boost its price monitoring and standards enforcement efforts.
“Our consumers can rely on the department’s commitment to close monitoring of the prices in our supermarkets and grocery stores. Rest assured that we act on sudden, unusual price movements and ensure competition in the market to give our consumers more choices,” said Usec. Pascua.
To avoid compromising consumers’ safety, Usec. Pascua also affirmed that the department goes after and cracks down establishments that sell uncertified, inferior, or substandard products.
The FTEB’s Surveillance and Monitoring Division monitors the prices of basic necessities and prime commodities and the compliance with the Fair Trade Laws (FTLs) of businesses. The bureau’s Product Standards Monitoring Division, on the other hand, checks the compliance with the relevant standards of those products under mandatory certification. The FTEB also work closely with the DTI-Regional Operations Group (ROG), especially for provincial and regional areas.
This is to ensure that the Price Act (Republic Act No. 7581), Price Tag (Republic Act No. 71), Products Standards (Republic Act No. 4109), Labeling (Article 77 of Republic Act No. 7394 or the Consumer Act of the Philippines), Service and Repair Shops (Presidential Decree 1572), and other FTLs are strictly enforced and observed in the market.