A bill providing Filipino consumers the tool to confirm the accuracy of the quantity and measurement of the products they’ve bought in all public and private wet markets, dry markets, tiangges, and even grocery stores and supermarkets is now awaiting President Duterte’s signature.
Deputy Speaker for Trade and Industry and Valenzuela City 1st District Rep. Wes Gatchalian, who lauded the swift ratification of the Timbangan ng Bayan bill last week, said the bill will establish Timbangan ng Bayan centers nationwide.
“Right now, we are only relying on the accuracy of the weighing instruments of our local suki, and trusting that their instruments are working properly or that they have not tampered with the seals placed by the local treasurer. We have no way of personally measuring the weight of the items that we buy at the time of purchase,” said the lawmaker.
Under Republic Act 7394, otherwise known as the Consumer Act, the only protection to consumers is the testing and calibration of weighing instruments every six months by the local treasurer, designated as the official sealer. Though penalties are provided for under the Consumer Act, these only range from P200 to P1,000, which does not serve as a deterrent to unscrupulous vendors.
“There are many reports of vendors who cheat their customers by manipulating the scales. According to my research, this does not just happen just in my district, but unfortunately, it happens all over the country,” said Gatchalian.
“But with the establishment of a Timbangan ng Bayan in all public and private markets, all consumers now have the opportunity to immediately double check the measurement of the goods they buy,” Gatchalian added.
Under the proposal, the market supervisor shall be in charge of the safekeeping and routine maintenance of all timbangan ng bayan instruments. The supervisor shall also record all products found to be deficient in quantity or is substandard in dimension, as well as the establishment where the same was bought.
The amendment increases the penalty that may be imposed pegging the minimum at P50,000 to a maximum of P300,000. Penalty of imprisonment has also been increased from a minimum of one year to not more than five years.