ASEAN Guarantees Protection To Consumers

MANILA, Philippines --- Consumers are protected anywhere in the entire ASEAN Region with the ASEAN member countries united to strengthen their welfare and protection efforts.

Director Victorio A. Mario Dimagiba, head of Department of Trade and Industry's Bureau of Trade Regulation and Consumer Protection (BTRCP) and the current chairman of the ASEAN Committee on Consumer Protection (ACCP), said that consumers can now file their complaint to the consumer protection agency of the country where the violation happened.

"Consumers, who may be tourists or citizens, may go to the focal agency of the country they are staying in or visiting to file a complaint," Dimagiba said.

The complainant will get an action number or complaint tracking number from the focal agency to serve as his reference for tracking. The complainant may seek help from the focal agency of his/her home country to follow up the case abroad.

This consumer welfare initiative by the ACCP is part of the ongoing process of economic integration towards ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, and is geared towards protecting the consumers in the ASEAN region particularly the tourists and businessmen coming from different countries by facilitating their complaints in a quick, less-hassle manner.

In the Philippines, the national focal agency for consumer complaints is the DTI-Bureau of Trade Regulation and Consumer Protection (BTRCP). Foreign tourists who are staying in the Philippines can bring their complaints to this agency for immediate action.

Likewise, Filipinos who are in ASEAN countries may file their consumer complaints to the national focal agency of the country they are staying in .

Dimagiba advised that it is better that the complaint is filed in the country where the defective product or services was purchased. Complainants are not required to be physically present during the case hearings since the focal agency will take care of tracking the progress of the case, thus it saves them time, money and effort.

In the same breath, a complainant can also follow the case while back in his/her home country, by communicating with the focal agency through email.

o intensify its awareness campaign, the ASEAN Committee on Consumer Protection (ACCP) established a website (www.aseanconsumer.org) which serves as an information portal for consumer protection in the ASEAN region. One of its significant features is the directory of national focal agencies, where the consumers will click the map/flag to find out the information/contact details of the concerned focal agency, such as the location, hotline numbers, email addresses, and the website link.

The ACCP website also features the latest news, product alerts, policies, and updates related to consumer protection in the ASEAN region.

Aside from the website, the ACCP launched its ASEAN Consumer Complaints Leaflet, which provides information on the hotlines and contact details of national focal agencies in all ASEAN member states (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam).

Dimagiba said the DTI will distribute copies of the said leaflet to hotels and airports nationwide this month of June to beef up its consumer welfare advocacy campaign.

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