AN environmental group tracking toxins in children’s products welcomed the signing last week of Republic Act 10620 or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act of 2013, by President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd.
In a statement, the EcoWaste Coalition said that the new law is a potent tool that will compel toy manufacturers to comply with safety labeling requirements or face legal sanctions.
“R.A. 10620, we hope, will be able to fix a persistent problem on poorly and deceptively labeled toys that we have been seeing since we started to embark on regular toy sampling way back in 2011,” said Thony Dizon, coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.
Toy sampling conducted by the group showed 121 of the 435 toys (27%) that it analyzed in 2011 and 312 of the 518 samples (60%) it examined in 2012 had antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury above levels of concern, which were not indicated on the product labels.
“By ensuring that toys and games bear the mandatory safety warnings and instructions, including cautionary statements, we uphold the rights of children who are most vulnerable to biological, chemical, mechanical, physical and other types of hazards that toys may present,” he said.
Dizon pointed out that consumers have the right to have access to truthful product information to facilitate sound choice and to be protected against the marketing of goods that are harmful to health and life.
Under the law, “a balloon, ball, marble, or toy or game which packaging is not in compliance with the requirements shall be considered a misbranded or banned hazardous substance and withdrawn from the market at the expense of the manufacturer or importer.”
A fine of not less than P10,000 but not exceeding P50,000 or imprisonment of not less than three months to two years, or both, await violators of the law.
R.A. 10620 assigned the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Health (DOH) to regularly publish a list of all manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers who failed to comply with the requirements of the law, and a list of all misbranded or banned hazardous substances disallowed for sale and distribution, respectively.
“We are excited to see and even contribute to the lists that the DTI and DOH are tasked to do. The information on these lists will surely assist consumers in making informed and healthy purchasing decisions,” Dizon said.
As the Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. 10620 are prepared, the EcoWaste Coalition proposed a parallel review of the Philippine National Standards for safety of toys to ensure essential amendments are made in light of relevant policy developments on children’s health and safety, nationally and globally.
Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago and Manny Villar authored the Senate version of R.A. 10620, while its House version was authored by Representatives Diosdado Arroyo, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Rufus Rodriguez.
Francis Earl A. Cueto