Senate bill seeks to further strengthen consumer rights

SENATE Bill 942 lets authorities determine if a product complies with all labeling requirements, while guiding consumers on product contents and origin. — PHILSTAR FILE PHOTO

A SENATOR has filed a bill that seeks to shut down establishments that sell, make, produce or import substandard and hazardous products to protect consumers.

“This bill aims to further strengthen consumer rights in the country and promote fair trade standards for the entire economy,” Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, who filed Senate Bill 942, said in a statement in Filipino on Sunday.

The measure will amend the Consumer Act.

Under the bill, an English or Filipino translation will be required from product labels written in foreign languages before they enter the Philippines.

Mr. Gatchalian said this would allow authorities to determine if the product complies with all labeling requirements, while guiding consumers on product contents and origin.

“It is important that consumers are empowered to make well-informed decisions as they choose products and services for themselves and their loved ones,” he said. This would also let legitimate enterprises grow.

The bill mandates the regulations against aggressive marketing promotions that “significantly impair” a consumer’s free will to buy a product or service. Ads must contain clear product features that don’t mislead consumers.

The measure also disallows the use of gambling schemes and tampering with equipment or electronic devices during a promotional activity. Violators will be fined as much as P1 million or imprisoned for up to seven years.

Manufacturers and distributors must inform government agencies and the public of any unforeseen hazards that come with products they have sold.

“The government should also establish mechanisms for ensuring that consumers are properly informed of such hazards,” according to a copy of the bill.

It also said policies must take into account basic consumer rights particularly on their basic needs, choice, representation, redress, consumer education, safety, information and a healthy environment. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan