The House Committee on Trade and Industry on Wednesday approved the proposed Internet Transactions Act, which is a priority measure of the Marcos administration.
The committee, chaired by Rep. Mario Vittorio Mariño, passed the unnumbered substitute bill, which consolidated 12 measures.
The bill seeks to grow e-commerce in the Philippines by promoting an environment founded on trust among consumers and merchants online.
The measure is eligible for swift approval under Rule 10, Section 48 of the House of Representatives as this bill was approved on third and final reading in the lower house during the 18th Congress.
The bill, which was principally authored by Speaker Martin G. Romualdez, aims to increase the number of e-commerce participants, and ultimately achieve sustainable growth.
The bill will also create the e-Commerce Bureau to promote the growth of e-commerce, ensure the implementation of Republic Act (RA) No. 8792 or the Electronic E-commerce Act of 2000, and serve as the focal point in the monitoring and implementation of the Philippine E-commerce Roadmap.
The bill provides for the creation of the E-Commerce Bureau, which would be placed under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Among the powers and functions of the bureau are the following: to implement, monitor, and ensure strict compliance by e-commerce stakeholders of the provision of the proposed act; build trust between consumers and sellers by requiring e-commerce platform operators, online merchants, or any other entity who engages in e-commerce to register their business with the bureau; and formulate policies, plans, and programs to ensure the robust and dynamic development of e-commerce.
The bureau shall be headed by a director to be appointed by the President of the Philippines, as recommended by the secretary of DTI.
In filing the bill, Romualdez cited a 2019 study by Google and Temasek, which said that, in Asean alone, the Internet economy is experiencing exponential growth as total Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) in Southeast Asia has reached the $100-billion mark, and is projected to reach $300 billion in 2025.
The bill’s explanatory note said that the Philippines had the lowest GMV in 2019 at $7 billion, lower than Malaysia ($11 billion), Vietnam ($12 billion), Singapore ($12 billion), Thailand ($16 billion), and Indonesia ($40 billion).
“This despite the Philippines’ estimated 76 million active Internet users and high Internet penetration rate (71 percent vis-a-vis 54 percent global average), longer spent hours daily on the Internet (10 hours vis-a-vis global average of six hours and 42 minutes), and very high social media penetration for population aged 13 and above (99 percent vis-a-vis 50 percent global average),” the bill’s explanatory note added.
“Philippine MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises) lag behind the adoption of e-commerce because enterprises either find using digital technology platforms too difficult, or are unaware of the benefits they offer,” it said.
“The Philippines also lacks policies and regulations that will facilitate online transactions and cross-border trade processes,” it added.
Other problems identified in the bill were the low Internet speed in the Philippines; weak last-minute delivery options, challenging topographical structure; payment schemes; lack of governing entity at the regional level that can fight cybercrime and settle cross-border dispute; and difficulties in returning purchased products. -30-