DTI-NegOr urges consumers to exercise right to information

By Roi Lomotan

Dr. Angeline Gonzales, Chief of DTI-NegOr Consumer Welfare Division talks about consumer rights and duties during the Kapihan Forum.
Dr. Angeline Gonzales, Chief of DTI-NegOr Consumer Welfare Division talks about consumer rights and duties during the Kapihan Forum.

NEGROS ORIENTAL, October 15 (PIA) – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Negros Oriental is reminding consumers to exercise their right to knowledge in buying products.

The reminder came with the onset of the observance of the National Consumer Welfare Month this October.

Speaking in a Kapihan Forum yesterday, DTI-Negros Oriental Consumer Welfare Division Chief Angeline Gonzales spoke on basic consumer rights, one of which is right to information.

This refers to the consumer’s right to be protected against dishonest or misleading advertising or labelling and the right to be given the facts and information needed to make an informed choice.

Gonzales highlighted this particular consumer right because of the upcoming full implementation of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community or AEC in 2016.

She said that with the implementation of AEC, majority of the products from other ASEAN countries can enter the local market free and without tariff.

Exercising the right to information is a way of protecting consumer’s welfare, she noted.

Gonzales urged consumers to read the product’s label carefully, learn more about its manufacturing and the safety of the product before buying it.

If it is a food product, consumers should read its ingredients to avoid any allergies and ensure food safety.

The DTI official emphasized the public should have a high level of awareness on their rights and duties as consumers especially since the full realization of AEC is getting close.

She believes that once AEC is fully established, products from other countries will be cheaper because there is no more tariff and this will make the market more competitive.

With the influx of more products coming in the market, Gonzales notes that consumer protection is one the main thrusts of AEC.

“AEC prioritizes the interest and welfare of consumers in the implementation of strategies for achieving integrated economic region,” she said.

Gonzales disclosed that AEC encourages its members to formulate measures on consumer protection.

The Philippines is lucky since it already has its Consumer Act that serves as the bible for consumer welfare, she added.

Aside from this, AEC also promotes notification and information exchange mechanism among its members.

Part of this is the website http://www.aseanconsumer.org/ wherein consumers who have complaints on products coming from other ASEAN countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam can log in and enter their complaints.

Complainants will then be directed to government agencies or bureaus that handle consumer welfare.

With this, complainants no longer need to go the country where the product is manufactured to file their complaints.

“The objective with regard to competitive economic region is to ensure the correct information in the market place and protect the interest and welfare of the consumers,” she said. (rmn/ral/PIA7-Negros Oriental/This article was first published at PIA website on Oct. 15, 2015)

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