Providing the buying public with effective and efficient representation in the development of policies and programs that cater to them, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) releases the new guidelines on its recognition of Consumer Organizations.

"The DTI truly values the role of consumer organizations in educating themselves and the buying public in general about their rights and responsibilities and other matters that greatly affect them," DTI-Consumer Protection Group (CPG) Undersecretary Atty. Ruth B. Castelo underscores.

As defined in the Department Administrative Order No. 17-07 Series of 2017, a Consumer Organization (CO) is "an organized and independent group that represents a substantial number of consumers whose membership is voluntary and whose primary objective is to protect the rights of consumers and to promote their welfare."

The DAO 17-07 classifies consumer organizations (COs) as either Local or National depending on the number of members in the area. It specifies that National Capital Region (NCR)-based COs may file their application and submit their documentary requirements for recognition with the DTI’s Consumer Protection and Advocacy Bureau (CPAB) and with the DTI provincial offices, on the other hand, for those province-based COs.

Upon assessment, the DTI-CPAB or DTI-RO will approve an application and issue a system-generated Certificate of Recognition (COR), which bears the electronic signature of he DTI Secretary. The certificate is valid for three (3) years unless cancelled or suspended.

As stated also in the DAO, one of the responsibilities of a recognized CO is to participate in government consultation programs and activities in formulating policies regarding consumer welfare and protection. DTI-CPAB Director Ronnel O. Abrenica underscores, “The DTI expects well thought-off and more articulate draft policies that will result from the active participation of DTI-recognized COs. It is their responsibility then that the consumers’ voice is constantly present and is listened to.”

In addition, the DAO states that COs will submit their price monitoring reports for basic necessities and prime commodities to assist in the DTI’s checking on the compliance of business establishments with the provisions of the Fair Trade Laws (FTLs). Furthermore, the DAO says that a recognized CO must also participate actively in the annual celebration of the World Consumer Rights Day every 15th day of March and of the Consumer Welfare Month every October.

The new guidelines include benefits for recognized COs such as being a legal personality to represent “the sector of segment of society it purports to represent”, being featured through an article in the DTI website or the Consumers’ Portal, once available, and will be given priority to participate in trainings/workshops on consumer related-laws or policies and other Fair Trade Laws (FTLs) among others.

A DTI-recognized CO, by nomination, can also be a Philippine Delegate to the International Consumer Protection Related Forums.

“We believe that through the establishments of COs, we are a step closer to our goal of heightening consumer awareness and educating them,” says DTI-CPG Undersecretary Castelo.

The new guidelines on the recognition of COs will take effect on 02 March 2018.♦

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