IN REPUBLIC Act No. 7394 otherwise known as the Consumer Act of the Philippines passed into law on April 13, 1992, it declares that it is the policy of the State to protect the interests of the consumer, promote his general welfare and to establish standards of conduct for business and industry. Further, it says that the State shall implement measures to protect consumers against hazards to health and safety; provide protection against deceptive, unfair and unconscionable sales acts and practices; provision of information and education to facilitate sound choice and the proper exercise of rights by the consumer; provision of adequate rights and means of redress; and involvement of consumer representatives in the formulation of social and economic policies.
Under the Act’s Consumer Product Quality and Safety, it declares policy, names implementing agencies and promulgates the adoption of consumer product standards assist the consumer in evaluating the quality, including safety, performance and comparative utility of consumer products. This provision is also meant to protect and safeguard the public against unreasonable risks of injury associated with consumer products and assure the public of the consistency of standardized products.
Mentioned in the act are crucial government agencies such as the Department of Health for to food, drugs, cosmetics, devices and substances, the Department of Agriculture with respect to products related to agriculture, and the Department of Trade and Industry on matters concerning other consumer products not mentioned earlier.
The act mandates that said departments may, by regulation, prohibit a manufacturer from stockpiling consumer products so as to prevent such manufacturer from circumventing and can direct the manufacturer to bring their products into conformity with the requirements of the applicable consumer product standards. Should there be defects found in their products, the manufacturers are compelled by said departments to replace the product with a like or equivalent product which complies with the applicable consumer product standards which does not contain the defect.
The concerned department shall aim at having consumer product standards established for every consumer product so that consumer products shall be distributed in commerce only after inspection and certification of its quality and safety standards by the department. The manufacturer shall avail of the Philippine Standard Certification Mark which the department shall grant after determining the product's compliance with the relevant standard in accordance with the implementing rules and regulations.
Meant to protect consumers against deception and unfair sales acts and practices including scams, the voluminous Consumer Act of the Philippines contains a lengthy definition of terms and provisions as well as prohibitions and penalties and when we conduct our consumer advocacy, we usually refer to the eight basic consumer rights which are;
1 Right to Basic Needs, which guarantees survival, adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care, education and sanitation. With this right, consumers can look forward to the availability of basic and prime commodities at affordable prices and good quality.
2 Right to Safety - the consumer should be protected against the marketing of goods or the provision of services that are hazardous to health and life.
3 Right to Information - the consumer should be protected against dishonest or misleading advertising or labeling and has the right to be given the facts and information needed to make an informed choice.
4 Right to Choose - the consumer has the right to choose from among various products at competitive prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality.
5 Right to Representation - the right to express consumer interests in the making and execution of government policies.
6 Right to Redress - the right to be compensated for misrepresentation, shoddy goods or unsatisfactory services.
7 Right to Consumer Education, which is the right to acquire knowledge and skills necessary to be an informed customer.
8 Right to a Healthy Environment - the right to live and work in an environment which is neither threatening nor dangerous and which permits a life of dignity and well-being.