In its relentless pursuit of consumer protection laws, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) recently conducted a comprehensive sweep of the Facebook market, revealing a shocking number of non-compliant businessmen based in the Philippines. In just one week, the DTI’s Legit Check initiative identified 37 vendors who violated the law, involving various violations, from missing product prices to using fake business permit.
The discovery of these offenders raises serious concerns for the government agency, because it suspects that these 37 cases represent only a fraction of the problem prevalent in online platforms. Marcus Valdez II, the Director of the Consumer Policy and Advocacy Bureau of the DTI, expressed his dismay, citing the alarming presence of fake business registrations as an act of falsifying official documents.
As a result of these findings, the DTI took immediate action by referring some cases to the National Bureau of Investigation. In addition, they directly coordinate with the Philippine National Police to facilitate the arrest of online sellers using fraudulent permits.
To address this issue more comprehensively, the DTI has expanded its scope beyond the Facebook market. They are now targeting non-compliant sellers on other prominent online platforms, including Instagram, TikTok, Carousell, Shopee, and Lazada. This multi-platform approach aims to prevent the proliferation of illegitimate sellers across the digital landscape.
Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo emphasized the need to update existing consumer protection laws to match the ever-evolving digital landscape. He expressed hope for the speedy reform of the Consumer Act of the Philippines, which has been in force for more than 30 years. In addition, Castelo highlighted the proposed Internet Transaction Act, which would further empower authorities to combat digital violations.
Looking ahead, the DTI looks forward to discussing these important steps during the upcoming State of the Nation Address. By garnering support from the highest levels of government, they believe that rapid progress can be achieved.
In conclusion, the relentless efforts of the DTI to ensure the compliance of online sellers has shed light on the prevalence of noncompliant merchants operating on social media platforms. By expanding its scope and enlisting the help of law enforcement agencies, the DTI is taking concrete steps to protect consumers from fraudulent practices. The call for new legislation reflects the urgency of adapting to the ever-changing digital landscape, strengthening the foundation for a safe and reliable online marketplace.