Press Release
June 18, 2020

Bong Go appeals for continued, strengthened consumer protection as economy gradually opens up amid the COVID-19 crisis

In light of the ongoing efforts to overcome the COVID-19 crisis, Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go appealed to the government for continued and strengthened protection for consumers as key sectors in the economy reopens, allowing some businesses to operate at a larger capacity.

"Habang unti-unti pong nagbubukas ang ilang sektor ng ating ekonomiya, sana po ay patuloy rin nating palakasin pa ang mga proteksyon para sa kapakanan ng mga Filipino consumers upang mapagaan ang kanilang pinapasan lalo na sa panahong ito," Go said.

"Kailangan po nila ng proteksyon lalo na at limitado pa ang income ng marami sa ating mga mamimili dahil ngayon pa lamang sila nakababalik ng trabaho habang ang iba naman ay hindi pa pinapayagang makabalik ng trabaho o hanapbuhay," he added.

While making sure that there is enough supply of essential goods and services on the country, the Senator reminded the government to further intensify their regulations on commodities, especially basic goods, to ensure that businesses do not take advantage of the current public health emergency.

"Mas palakasin pa dapat ng mga concerned agencies ang kanilang price monitoring operations upang walang magtangkang magsamantala sa kasalukuyang sitwasyon ng bansa," he added.

Last June 12, Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said during the "Cabinet Report sa Teleradyo"radio program that the agency will be more closely monitoring the prices of goods and services sold online and ensure that online buyers are protected from profiteering and other fraudulent business practices using the internet. This came after the agency recognized that pandemic and anticipated transition to the "New Normal" lead to increased use of the digital platform for commerce. Lopez expects that online transactions for small and medium enterprises are likely to increase from 10% to 80%.

DTI is presently providing free webinar, such as the "Making Your Business Digital", for small businesses on how to effectively and safely conduct business online. Topics also include widening target market reach and digital payments. The department also maintains a four-digit hotline 1348 where consumers and the general public may report any complaint about price and quality of goods and services sold and bought online.

"Definitely we have to check on this business dahil lalo na ngayon na lalaki itong business na ito. So nandiyan ho ang consumer protection, nandiyan po ang price monitoring din even online we make sure that the products being sold online will have the prices indicated.... This is the sector that will continue to grow as we grow the e-commerce. Moving forward, we expect the e-commerce transactions to go up to even about 80 percent of the future transactions," Lopez said.

To ensure the best prices for both agricultural producers and consumers, Go earlier asked Department of Agriculture to strengthen its programs, such as Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita Marketing Program.

These programs establish a direct link between the farmers/fisherfolk and the consuming public, ensuring that farmers get the best prices for their goods, while providing affordable, safe, and nutritious produce to Filipino consumers. Go added that these programs aid in ensuring food security in the country amid the pandemic.

"We have seen how the pandemic broke the global supply chains of the food sector. Now is the time to ensure that we are food self-reliant and to reduce our dependence on global trade when it comes to food. Now, more than ever, we need to promote and support food security and agriculture in the country," he emphasized.

Meanwhile, concerned government agencies continue to implement price controls to prevent traders and businesses from taking advantage of the COVID-19 emergency.

DA's Bantay Presyo Task Force, pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 7581, or the Price Act, continues to conduct price monitoring operations in all regions of the country, and issues notices of violations to retailers found to be overpricing.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources also conducted price monitoring operations in 122 markets from May 27 to June 2.

The Food and Drug Authority has also inspected 133 establishments. In coordination with the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, the FDA has seized and confiscated various products amounting to PhP30.7 million for violating the Price Act and RA No. 9711, or the FDA Act of 2009.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases has also issued Resolution No. 44, which seeks the formulation of a Joint Memorandum Circular or issuances strengthening the role of Local Price Coordinating Councils in adopting a whole-of-nation approach in drafting policies to be implemented by LGUs/LCEs in their mandate and functions of price monitoring, price enforcement, and price adjudication.

Go then explained that for the economy to recover, consumer rights and welfare must be upheld as they are the main drivers of the economy.

"We must continue to build strong and more inclusive consumer protection measures by addressing misinformation and unfair practices as the economy recovers from the effects of COVID-19," he added.

Previously, Go asked private individuals and businesses not to exploit the pandemic for their own financial gains. "In times of crisis, every peso counts. We should not allow corruption and abusive business practices to take advantage of the vulnerabilities of fellow Filipinos."

Go also urged the public to speak up against private individuals or public officials who are engaged in said anomalous practices.

"Kung may alam po kayo na mga abusadong mga indibidwal sa gobyerno man o sa pribadong sektor, huwag po kayo matakot magsumbong sa Office of the President, sa Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission through PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica and their hotlines o sa akin mismo," Go said.

"Ako po mismo magbubulong ng inyong hinaing kay Pangulong Duterte at sisiguraduhin natin na mapoprotektahan po kayo basta magsabi lang kayo ng totoo," he added.

News Latest News Feed