President Rodrigo Duterte has signed several bills into law including a measure institutionalizing the establishment of Timbangan ng Bayan centers in public and private markets to protect consumers from deceptive and unfair sales acts and practices.
The President last April 13, signed RA 11706, otherwise known as the Consumer Act of the Philippines. The said bill os a consolidation of Senate Bill 1251 and House Bill 3225 that was passed by the Senate last January 31 and the House on February 2, respectively.
Under the new law, Article 62-A directs all provincial, city, and municipal governments to establish accessible Timbangan ng Bayan Centers in all public and private markets, including supermarkets, and when practicable, in flea markets or tiangges and grocery stores, within their respective localities.
Timbangan ng Bayan Centers will provide consumers with an effective means of checking the accuracy of the weight and the quantity of the goods that they are buying. These centers must have the necessary instruments for determining weights and measures, which shall be available, free of charge, to all persons who need to confirm the accuracy of the quantity or measurements of products purchased or about to be purchased, as stipulated in this latest bill.
The law states that the market supervisor will be in charge of the safekeeping and routine maintenance of the Timbangan ng Bayan instruments and shall be responsible for maintaining a record of every product found to be deficient in quantity or is substandard in dimension, as well as the establishment where the same was bought including the name/s of the proprietor/s or manager/s.
A certificate duly issued by the market supervisor or his/her authorized representative reflecting the contents of such record will be prima facie evidence of a violation of Article 64 of this act.
RA 11706 includes among the prohibited acts fraudulently altering, tampering, vandalizing or destroying any scale, balance, Timbangan ng Bayan instrument, weight or measure after it is officially sealed.
As for penalties, anyone who is guilty of prohibited acts may be fined not less than PHP50,000 but not more than PHP300,000 or by imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than five years or both upon the discretion of the court.
The owner, possessor, or user of instruments of weights and measures, upon conviction, will be subject to a fine of not less than PHP50,000 but not more than PHP300,000 or by imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than five years or both, upon the discretion of the court.
Two successive violations will automatically result in the cancellation of the business permit of the individual or business establishment that does not condone to the new law.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Department of Trade and Industry, must, in coordination with the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, the League of Provinces of the Philippines, the League of Cities of the Philippines, the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, and other relevant government agencies and stakeholders, promulgate the rules and regulations to effectively implement the provision of this act.
With additional report, www.pna.gov.ph, Azer Parocha
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