Tougher consumer shield for Xmas shoppers urged

AMID an expected surge of frenzied Christmas and New Year shoppers, Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian pressed for tougher protection for customers buying gifts for their love ones, among others.

Gatchalian reminded that as in the past, consumer spending accelerates ahead of Christmas and New Year festivities, prompting his move to amend the Consumer Act of the Philippines (Republic Act 7394) to strengthen the rights of consumers and enhance measures designed to protect them.

In filing Senate Bill (SB) 942, to be known as the “Enhanced Consumer Act” once enacted into law, the senator said “it is important that consumers are empowered to make well-informed decisions as they choose products and services for themselves and their loved ones as this will also empower legitimate enterprises to grow their businesses.”

Gatchalian noted that among the amendments provided in SB 942 include requiring English or Filipino translation of product labels written in foreign characters or languages before they are allowed to enter the country.

This, he added, would also enable authorities to determine whether the product has complied with all other labeling requirements and provide consumers with proper guidance on the contents and origin of the product.

Basic rights

THE senator’s proposed remedial legislation would “expand authority to close down establishments caught in flagrante delicto (in the act of committing a misdeed) selling substandard and hazardous products.”

The Gatchalian bill also seeks an expansion of regulation on protection from aggressive marketing promotions that significantly impair the average consumer’s freedom of choice on the purchase of a product and service.

“Ang panukalang batas na ito ay naglalayon na lalo pang palakasin ang karapatan ng konsyumer sa bansa at isulong ang maayos na pamantayan ng kalakalan para sa buong ekonomiya,” the senator added. [This bill aims to further strengthen consumer rights in the country and promote fair trade standards for the entire economy.]

As filed, the remedial legislation provides for the adoption of policies that would take into account the basic consumer rights namely the right to basic needs, right to choose, right to representation, right to redress, right to consumer education, right to safety, right to a healthy environment, and right to information.

In addition, the bill spells out responsibilities that consumers need to exercise, including “critical awareness, consumer action to assert and ensure that their rights are protected and not exploited, and social concern or becoming more aware of the impact of the consumption on other citizens, environmental awareness, and solidarity.”


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