Protecting Filipino consumers

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“The government can only do so much. It is we, the consumers, who possess the power to ensure that the products we buy are of the right quality and that the stores and traders remain fair and responsive to us, their customers.

Over the past few decades, the unprecedented integration of economies on a global scale has facilitated the importation of all manner of goods from around the world into the country. Eventually, counterfeit and substandard products also found their way onto the shelves of our stores. Many of us may already have a handful of these items in our homes or establishments, whether unintentionally or by choice.

The entry of these products to the Philippine market has been a boon for Filipino consumers, especially the poor, as it provided them with affordable alternatives to more expensive brands.

However, we should be aware that these goods come with a risk: In order to reduce costs, most of these items were made of inferior materials or sold without undergoing proper checks, resulting in issues on quality and reliability.

There is no other way of saying it but these counterfeit and substandard products are putting the lives and possessions of our people in grave danger. It has been documented numerous times that the use of these products has resulted in many accidents, injuries and deaths and caused great damage and destruction to property.

To address these problems, the government, led by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and its Consumer and Protection Group, is conducting regular checks on manufacturers, importers and stores to verify if the products they sell have complied with established national standards. With the assistance of investigation and law enforcement agencies, the DTI is also conducting surveillance operations and raids to root out and confiscate these fake and substandard items.

Just recently, the Department’s Bureau of Philippine Standards has presented the latest Import Commodity Clearance stickers with new and enhanced security features to protect consumers who are buying imported products.

And now that the “ber” months have arrived and the holiday season has officially begun, the DTI is going to stores and marketplaces nationwide to check the quality of the goods being sold and to monitor the price of commodities, groceries and other items, as part of their campaign to protect Filipino consumers. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has directed the DTI and other concerned agencies to ensure that those violating Fair Trade laws and the Price Act are apprehended and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Consumers are also encouraged to register all consumer-related concerns to the DTI’s Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau or to other relevant government agencies dealing with your specific issue. They may also call 8888, the government public service hotline, which is mandated to receive and act on complaints within 72 hours.

But, at the end of the day, the government can only do so much. It is we, the consumers, who possess the power to ensure that the products we buy are of the right quality and that the stores and traders remain fair and responsive to us, their customers.

We should stop patronizing fake and substandard goods as well as start demanding that establishments give us what we pay for.

It is also our duty and responsibility as citizens to educate ourselves of our rights under the law, to assist the government in monitoring the quality and the prices of goods and to report those who are violating consumer laws.

Indeed, with our collective efforts, we can create truly empowered Filipino consumers.

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Blast from the past: On 24 September 1669, Manuel de Leon y Saravia, a native of Paredes de Nava, Spain, arrived in the Philippines to assume his duties as governor-general of the Philippines.

“With our collective efforts, we can create truly empowered Filipino consumers.

During his time as governor-general, the areas in the country controlled by Spanish colonial authorities underwent a period of relative peace and prosperity. There were no wars against foreign nations, revolts in the provinces nor incursions by pirates and raiders. As a result, trade and farming flourished.

It was during his term that cacao or cocoa began to be cultivated which was first planted in Carigara, Leyte and soon spread throughout the archipelago.

Today, the local cacao industry is on a rise with provinces such as Batangas and Cebu as well as the Davao Region producing world-class and award-winning cacao and chocolate.

The Davao Region, in particular, is experiencing a boom, accounting for 81 percent of total cacao production in the country.

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