Online trade protection bill on track–Gatchalian

LAWMAKERS are on track to push passage of timely legislation to protect the growing number of buyers and sellers engaged in legitimate online trading.

“It aims to protect buyers, consumers and online traders given the number of reported cases of abuse,” said Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, in a mix of English and Filipino, in a radio interview with DWIZ at the weekend.

Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, observed that buying and selling online is now the “new normal” even as he noted that while it is gaining popularity and providing opportunities for small business, other abusive traders are taking advantage of the “convenience and easy selling.”

He recalled that in the recent Senate hearing on the bill, the presentation of the Optical Media Board (OMB) confirmed the proliferation of “illegal software, illegal music, illegal videos being sold in online platforms like Lazada and Shopee.”

In our hearing, I was also surprised when I searched the Internet and found out many forms of food are sold in online platforms without having been reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA itself has issued health warnings, these supplements should not be taken because they did not pass scrutiny.”

The point, he stressed, “is that this should not be allowed to happen because the people will be fooled, believing it is good for their body, but is actually dangerous.”

As envisioned in the bill, Gatchalian said the remedial legislation provides for the creation of an “e-commerce bureau” in the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to monitor these transactions and hear complaints against online platforms.

He said platforms “like Lazada and Shopee” should be answerable because the goods sold on their platforms are not available in the Philippines and, therefore buyers cannot run after the manufacturers if there are product flaws.

Conversely, Gatchalian said, the bill also seeks to address the accountability of online sellers from abroad to their “victim-buyers” in the Philippines.

Gatchalian cited the OMB presentation  showing “fake CD, fake videos, fake movies” being sold in the black market.


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