After going virtual for two (2) years due to the pandemic, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) successfully held its first hybrid Consumer Congress on 20 October 2022 at Holiday Inn Makati.
This year’s Consumer Congress brought together consumer champions and stakeholders from Australia, South Korea, and across ASEAN as the Consumer Welfare Month’s culminating activity, to heighten awareness about the importance of mutual reinforcement of digitalization and sustainable consumption among consumers and build a more equitable future.
In her welcome remarks, DTI Consumer Protection Group (CPG) Undersecretary, Atty. Ruth B. Castelo, emphasized, “As consumers, we have to be mindful of our consumption behavior. When doing purchases online, we need to be vigilant on the sustainability of the products that we purchase and check the packaging materials, for example.” She added, “The DTI is in constant communication with the platforms to at least minimize or lessen the use of plastic.”
Consumer Policy and Advocacy Bureau (CPAB) Director, Atty. M. Marcus N. Valdez II, delivered Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual’s message, saying, “I would like to express my deepest appreciation to those who have been instrumental in navigating with us the ever-increasing complexity of consumer affairs toward sustainability.”
Meanwhile, Asec. Kristine Y. Evangelista, Spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture and Assistant Secretary for Consumer Affairs, expressed their commitment to assist consumers by increasing agricultural production and ensuring consumer access to agricultural commodities.
Esteemed speakers from the Philippines and other countries provided updates and information on the state of consumer protection in the country, challenges, lessons, and the future of Consumer Organizations in ASEAN, and Sustainable Consumption and the Role of Consumer Organizations.
CPAB Director, Atty. M. Marcus N. Valdez II, said, “To effectively protect the interests of consumers, the DTI continues to develop and reevaluate existing policies, laws, and regulations to improve and ensure their applicability to the developments of trade and technology, and consumers’ needs.”
Committee on Trade & Industry Chairperson Mario Vittorio A. Mariño also expressed his support to the Consumer Congress. In his speech delivered by CPAB Assistant Director, Atty. Cherryl G. Carbonell, Hon. Mariño said, “The HOR-Committee on Trade and Industry prioritizes the review and approval of the Internet Transactions Act, which we believe will intensify the protection for consumers and businesses as well.”
Mr. Putu “Apri” Swajaya emphasized the importance of stronger collaboration among ASEAN Member States, as well as the need for governments to strengthen relationships with Consumer Associations. Dr. Sathita Wimonkunarak Dr. Sathita discussed the role of consumer associations in empowering Thai consumers, emphasizing the significance of consumer programs and activities such as product testing. Lastly, Ms. Indrani Thuraisingham urged action to address climate change and the reality of its negative consequences in our daily lives. She stated that the Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations has collaborated with a Malaysian electrical utility provider on digitalizing energy via smart meters. Malaysians can now monitor their power consumption in real-time every 30 minutes.
The DTI recognized its new partners in advancing consumer protection during the second part of the Congress, namely, Manuel L. Quezon University (MLQU) for the establishment of a consumer legal clinic; the Korea Consumer Agency (KCA) for its bilateral partnership to assist in the administration and enforcement of consumer protection legislation and policies in the Philippines; and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for the development of the 2022-2023 ASEAN Australia New Zealand Free Trade Area – Consumer Affairs Program (AANZFTA-CAP) Phase 2.
The DTI also recognized the country’s first National Consumer Organization, Laban Konsyumer, Inc., and awarded the Seal of Legitimacy to Unicity Network Philippines, Inc., Max Health, and Living International, Inc.
In closing, CPG Assistant Secretary, Atty. Ann Claire C. Cabochan, underscored that, “With the continuous digitization of consumer transactions, the DTI hopes to achieve convergence not only between the interests of consumers and businesses but also of the environment we shall at all times give paramount importance.”
The Consumer Congress was participated in by attendees from other government agencies, private sector, and local government units, namely, the Department of Agriculture, Securities and Exchange Commission, Department of Energy, Department of Finance, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, Department of Information and Communications Technology, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Philippine Consumer Centric Traders Association Inc. and the Local Government Units of Mandaluyong, Pasig, and Marikina and almost 200 virtual attendees comprised of the general public and other agencies via Zoom and Facebook Live.
For consumer-related concerns and queries, you may send an email to ConsumerCare@dti.gov.ph or reach us thru the One-DTI (1-384) Hotline. END