Trade department launches ACCP for online dispute resolution, buyer protection

Asean consumers can now access the Learning Management System, which offers modules on consumer protection to raise public awareness and vigilance across the 10 Asean member-states (AMS), to enable better understanding of consumer issues and disputes, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

“With these developments, consumers and all stakeholders in the Asean Region are encouraged to access and fully utilize these tools, as well as disseminate the information among their families, friends and colleagues,” DTI Consumer Protection Group Undersecretary Ruth B. Castelo said in a news statement issued on Tuesday.

Another Asean Committee on Consumer Protection (ACCP) is the development of the Asean Sustainable Consumption Toolkit (SCT) consisting of five modules, which promotes Sustainable Consumption and Production. The availability of this toolkit in the ACCP web site is set on August 2022.

During the ACCP’s Thematic Session on the Dispute Resolution in Asean, the DTI, through its Consumer Policy and Advocacy Bureau (CPAB), presented the Philippine Online Dispute Resolution System (PODRS) Pilot Project, or the DTI Consumer Complaints and Assistance Resolution (CARe) System.

For his part, DTI-CPAB Director Atty. M. Marcus N. Valdez II explained, “The system will automate and harmonize the entire government complaints handling process with the end goal of interlinking all the member agencies of the Consumer Network [ConsumerNet], or the group of government departments with consumer protection functions.”

The trade department has begun the pilot testing of the Philippine Online Dispute Resolution System (PODRS) in 2021 with the help of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and University of the Philippines Public Administration Research and Extension Services Foundation Inc. (UPPAF).

Castelo emphasized in April during the first day of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) eCommerce week that they have been planning for the PODRS since 2019, the moment it was brought up in the Asean Committee on Consumer Protection. However, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic delayed the process.

At the height of the pandemic, the trade department noted that consumer complaints rose substantially amid the increase in online shopping as some consumers avoided physical stores. 

The Learning Management System was officially launched during the Asean Consumer Protection Conference aimed at promoting public vigilance across the 10 Asean Member States which are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam.

The public is advised to visit the ACCP website at https://aseanconsumer.org/ to know more about consumer protection initiatives of Asean.

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