A bill seeking to guarantee honesty and fairness and put an end to fraudulent transactions in the sale of services and goods in the internet is a  priority measure to be acted upon by the House of Representatives when regular session resumes on Monday.

online class - House plenary likely to approve Internet Transactions Act
(PIXABAY / MANILA BULLETIN)

This was assured by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco as he underscored  the urgency of passing the bill during a recent meeting with Senate President Vicente Sotto III and other Senate leaders.

At yesterday’s Laging Handa press briefing, Valenzuela City Rep. Wesley Gatchalian aired confidence that House Bill 7805 or the Internet Transactions Act will pass plenary approval in the Lower House soon.

Gatchalian, chairman of the House Committee on Trade and Industry, and Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Alfredo Garbin are the principal authors of HB 7805.

Aside from the creation of an e-Commerce Bureau, the bill also proposes strict compliance to a Code of Conduct among all businesses involved in eCommerce.

Among the principles indicated in the e-Commerce Code of Conduct is the guarantee for equal application of rights of consumers and their treatment with “honesty, integrity and fairness at all times.”

Accurate information about goods and services being offered for sale on-line and conformity of said merchandise to Philippine regulatory standards should be assured.

The e-Commerce Bureau (eCB) shall be an agency under the Department of Trade and Industry.  The proposed bureau is mandated to implement, monitor and ensure compliance to the Internet Transactions Act, among other duties and responsibilities.

The said bureau will also have the power to investigate and file appropriate cases against violators and shall receive and address consumer complaints on internet transactions.

Gatchalian said the e-CB shall have the power to issue summons, subpoena ad testificandum and subpoena duces tecum to alleged violators or witnesses to compel their attendance during formal investigation and proceedings on a complaint. 

The bill also defines the right to redress by online merchants.

Garbin said he will proposed amendments that will amply protect online merchants  and ride haling service providers who are at times being victimized by bogus buyers and fake transactions.

Under HB 7805, ride hailing providers are also mandated to treat customers fairly and honestly.

No rider or delivery service personnel will be allowed to cancel confirmed orders if such have been paid in full.  However, it shall be unlawful for consumers to unreasonably “shame, demean, embarrass or humiliate” ride haling partners.

During the LH briefing, Gatchalian disclosed that e-Commerce has become one of the more important economic activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, thus, the law must provide ample protection for all persons involved, particularly consumers.

He disclosed that in 2019, the DTI received 2,457 complaints for the whole year.  

“Ngayon taon, mula January to October, tumaas ito ng 600 percent.  Umabot sa 14,869 complaints ang natanggap ng DTI (This year, from January to October, the number increased by 600 peercent.  A total 14,869 complaints were received by DTI),” Gachalian disclosed.

The top three issues raised in the complaints are the following: violation of the Price Act; delivery of defective products, and deceptive practices.

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