(File photo)

MANILA – As consumer spending accelerates ahead of Christmas and New Year festivities, Senator Win Gatchalian is seeking to amend the Consumer Act of the Philippines (Republic Act No. 7394) to strengthen the rights of consumers and enhance measures designed to protect them.

“It is important that consumers are empowered to make well-informed decisions as they choose products and services for themselves and their loved ones as this will also empower legitimate enterprises to grow their businesses,” Gatchalian said in a news release on Sunday.

Gatchalian filed Senate Bill 942 or The Enhanced Consumer Act, amending RA 7394 that would require English or Filipino translation of product labels written in foreign characters or languages before they are allowed to enter the country.

This, he said, would also enable authorities to determine whether the product has complied with all other labeling requirements and provide consumers with proper guidance on the contents and origin of the product.

The proposed measure also seeks to expand authority to close down establishments caught in flagrante delicto (in the act of committing a misdeed) selling substandard and hazardous products.

The bill also seeks an expansion of regulation on protection from aggressive marketing promotions that significantly impair the average consumer’s freedom of choice on the purchase of a product and service.

“Ang panukalang batas na ito ay naglalayon na lalo pang palakasin ang karapatan ng konsyumer sa bansa at isulong ang maayos na pamantayan ng kalakalan para sa buong ekonomiya (This proposed bill aims to strengthen the rights of consumers in the country and push clearer trade guidelines for the whole economy),” Gatchalian said.

The proposed measure provides for the adoption of policies that would take into account the eight basic consumer rights– the right to basic needs, right to choose, right to representation, right to redress, right to consumer education, right to safety, right to a healthy environment and right to information.

The bill also spells out responsibilities that consumers need to exercise. These are critical awareness, consumer action to assert and ensure that their rights are protected and not exploited, and social concern or becoming more aware of the impact of the consumption on other citizens, environmental awareness and solidarity. (PNA)