Government strengthens oversight of online sales and publishes consolidated rules


The government has further strengthened oversight of trade and commerce in online shopping channels with the issuance of Joint Administrative Order 22-01, consolidating all existing rules and guidelines on online businesses.

The JAO was the result of concerted efforts between the Department of Commerce and Industry, the Department of Health, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Property Intellectual Property of the Philippines and the National Privacy Commission.

In response to the proliferation of banned and regulated products being sold on marketplace platforms and social media marketplaces, these government agencies have issued the JAO to caution merchants selling on Facebook/Meta, Instagram, Viber, Lazada, Shopee, Carousell and other marketplace platforms against selling unlicensed, restricted or prohibited products.

Under the order, government agencies must develop a system to exchange intelligence or information about prohibited and regulated items monitored online, including automatically sharing information with the appropriate regulatory agency about possible violations. detected or discovered.

This may include sharing and accessing a product/item database with sufficient information, keywords and content.

“Institutionalizing this exchange of information between government agencies is one of the ways we can make compliance monitoring by online sellers more effective. The DTI’s e-commerce division will be responsible for coordinating both market platforms and government agencies in setting up this mechanism,” Commerce Secretary Ramon Lopez said.

Online businesses are covered by the Consumer Law of the Philippines, the Philippine Standards Act which provides liability for defective products, or the Intellectual Property Code for counterfeit and pirated products.

Online sellers must comply with product and service warranties, labeling requirements, including placement of price tags.

The DTI warns that the practice of providing prices through private (or direct) messages to consumers or buyers is considered a violation of the Price Tag Act.

Online merchants must present the corresponding permit or license number for regulated items, as prescribed by the relevant regulatory bodies. Online businesses are not allowed to produce, import, distribute, market, sell or transport goods prohibited by law.

DTI Undersecretary for the Consumer Protection Group, Ruth Castelo, reminded online merchants to comply with the provisions of the Consumer Law and the Pricing Law.

“Laws that apply to physical stores also apply to online business. A price tag that must be stuck on items you buy in-store must also be stuck on products you buy online or through listings. published prices.

“Buyers no longer have to ask the seller for the price, who will almost always say a private message is being sent (PM Me). This is a clear violation of the Price Tag Act,” a she declared.

Consumers and sellers are reminded that fines and penalties under existing laws applicable to physical transactions also apply to online transactions, she added.

The JAO has adopted the ASEAN Online Business Code of Conduct to ensure that merchants are aware of their responsibilities to consumers.

The DTI reminds digital platforms to ensure that merchants selling on the platforms must obtain licenses, permits and other certification requirements depending on the nature of their business and the goods and services they sell.

Foods and drugs must comply with Food and Drug Association registration, while consumer products must bear Philippine Standard marks or ICC stickers.

Under the JAO, digital platforms have three calendar days to remove an online post upon notice from the relevant authorized agency, or face charges.

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