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Facebook: Laban Konsyumer Inc.
Website : www.labankonsyumer.com
September 11, 2020
Committee on Trade, Commerce and
Attn.: Ms. Jingle Concon-Allam
Re: Senate Bill 1591 and 1808
Laban Konsyumer Inc. respectfully supports the enactment of the Online Transaction Bills contained in Senate Bills 1591 and 1808 , and submits for the consideration of the Committee certain comments and recommendations on both Senate Bills 1591 and 1808 as follows:
- We propose to add a Section on Construction, which is copied from Article 3 of the Consumer Act of the Philippines or Republic Act No, 7394 .
It shall state that “ The best interest of the consumers shall be considered in the interpretaation and implementation of the provisions of this Act, including its implementing rules and regulations.”
- We propose to add a new provision that will require Online Selling Platforms to submit to the E Commerce Bureau a copy of what we call a Merchant Agreement, or a Third Party Supplier Agreement, or its equivalent, which shall contain , among others , the terms and conditions of the Parties that shall govern the entry of the merchants and suppliers to sell goods and services in the Online Platforms, compliance to Philippine laws and regulations such as the Consumer Act of the Philippines , including payment of taxes , and payment options and facilities. We noted the definition in SB 1808 on Online e Commerce Platform Providers and Online Merchants.
- We propose to add a provision that shall require all Online Platforms to submit full disclosure to the E Commerce Bureau whether they sell their own goods and services or through their third party suppliers , directly to the consumers . This is addressed in SB 1808.
- We propose to add a provision that shall authorize the Philippine Competition Commission to investigate and enforce under the Competition Act any commission of acts by the Online Selling Platforns, merchants and third party suppliers that may violate the Competition Law to the prejudice of the consumers.
- We propose that the E Commerce Bureau be renamed E -Commerce Commission , due to the composition , and should be a one stop shop , stand alone government agency in the like of the Philippine Competition Commission and dealing arms length relationship with the implementing regulatory agencies which shall continue to discharge their duties under their own respective charters. The Competition Act has a specific provision on relationship with regulators in Section 32 of Republic Act No. 10667 that may be considered for adoption in the Bills.
It will be a step in Consumer Empowerment if a consumer representation be included in the composition of the Commission, as well as in the E -Commerce Trust Mark, in the like of an independent director sitting on the Boards of publicly listed companies.
The E -Commerce Commission should handle and resolve all consumer complaints. Thus , the Section 21 in SB 1591 on the Implementing Agencies can be mofidied along the provision of Section 32 of the Competition Act captioned Relationsship with Sector Regulators.
- On the Definition of Terms , Consumer should retain its universal definition as referring only to natural persons. In both Bills, the online sellers are mostly juridical entities and it will look awkward for the E – Commerce Commission to handle consumer complaints involving juridical entities. We are open to research the best practices on the definition of consumer from our Asean neighbors and other countries.
- On provisions relating to qualification and registration of online merchants, the E- Commerce Commission should be authorized to act moto proprio or on its own action, to place a firewall or block all online selling platforms, domestic or foreign, that fails to comply with the law. Thus, they cannot do business in the country, unless they comply with the law. This suggestion will give teeth to Sections 6 (d) and 8 of SB 1808 requiring the registration of non resident foreign corporations doing business in the Philippines to compel compliance with the law.
- We do not endorse section 13 of SB 1591 consistent with our objection on the definition of a Consumer. Consumer complaint handling and resolution should be independent and separate from merchants’ disputes. We are of the opinion that Section 13 will prolong the resolution period of the complaint to the prejudice of the consumers. The merchants’ disputes should be governed by existing laws and rules on civil cases.
- On Section 15 of SB 1591 re Damages, we believe a quasi-judicial body cannot impose damages.
- On section 17 of S B 1591 and Section 18 of SB 1808 we propose a straightforward joint and solidary liability amongst online platforms and merchants. The provision as worded is litigious and can prejudice the consumer rights for a fair and honest resolution of the complaints.
- We propose to exempt start up enterpreneurs from the provisions of the Bills but only those that we consider de minimis, i.e. working capital of less than Php 200,000.00 as an incentive for work from home entepreneurs , such as former OFWs and their families and those who lost their jobs .
Thank you for the opportunity to submit our position paper.
Very truly yours,
Atty. Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba, AB, LLB, LLM