THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has released new guidelines on recognizing consumer organizations (COs), a move seen to give buyers representation in the development of policies and programs for them.
In a department order set to take effect next Friday, DTI defined a CO as “an organized and independent group that represents a substantial number of consumers, whose membership is voluntary and whose primary objective is to protect the rights of consumers and promote their welfare.”
“The DTI truly values the role of COs in educating themselves and the buying public in general about their rights and responsibilities, and other matters that greatly affect them,” said Ruth Castlo, Trade undersecretary and head of the department’s Consumer Protection Group.
COs are classified as either local or national, depending on the number of members in an area.
Metro Manila-based COs may apply and submit documents required for recognition to the DTI’s Consumer Protection and Advocacy Bureau (CPAB). Those in the provinces, meanwhile, may do so in the department’s regional offices (ROs).
The CPAB or RO will approve an application after it is assessed, and issue a system-generated certificate of recognition bearing the Trade secretary’s electronic signature. The certificate is valid for three years unless canceled or suspended.
DTI-recognized COs are obliged to join government consultation programs and activities in formulating policies on consumer welfare and protection.
They are also obliged to submit price-monitoring reports for basic necessities and prime commodities to assist the department in checking the compliance of business establishments with the provisions of the Fair Trade Laws (FTLs).
Benefits for such COs include having a legal personality to represent “the sector or segment of society it purports to represent,” being featured on the DTI website, and being given priority to participate in trainings or workshops on consumer related-laws or policies.