The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has begun the pilot testing of Philippine Online Dispute Resolution System (PODRS) in a bid to improve handling of consumer complaints.
In a news statement on Wednesday, DTI’s Consumer Protection Group (CPG) said the implementation of PODRS is in line with its mandate to protect and educate Filipino consumers.
DTI-CPG noted that it issued Department Administrative Order 20-05, Series of 2020 with the “purpose of developing and establishing an integrated national online system by which all consumer complaints are received, docketed, transmitted, and resolved, providing network facility and limits of disclosure of data to maintain integrity and credibility of the system.”
The DTI aims to make PODRS a Web-based consumer complaint portal for the country. The system will automate the whole government process of handling consumer complaints by interlinking the member-agencies of the Consumer Network.
The trade department is rolling out PODRS with the help of United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-University of the Philippines Public Administration Research and Extension Services Foundation Inc. (UPPAF).
To operationalize the system, PODRS will undergo three phases, including assessment; functional specifications and workshop; and compliance with data privacy, security, risk management and systems development.
“Currently on its Phase 1, the DTI and the UPPAF are in the process of assessing the process and tools used for the DTI consumer complaints management to arrive at recommendations on functionalities to be included in the development of the PODRS,” DTI said.
Apart from streamlining the consumer handling processes, the DTI-CPG is also tasked with making available channels of communications for easy access regarding consumer queries.
“The system will help both the DTI and the consumers because through the online platform, it will be easier to document and track every process of a complaint,” CPG Assistant Secretary Ann Claire C. Cabochan said.
“The department will do every measure to improve the fair, transparent, and efficient process of resolving consumer complaints in the country,” DTI Undersecretary Ruth B. Castelo added.
The trade department noted that consumer complaints have risen substantially in pandemic amid the increase in online shopping as some consumers avoid physical stores.