15 March 2010

Presidential Candidates Urged to Fight for Consumer Rights

Quezon City. “The Filipino consumers have the right to know who among the presidential aspirants can best defend them against market abuses that can put their health, safety and welfare at risk.”

Thus said the EcoWaste Coalition as it joins the global consumer movement led by Consumers International in commemorating the World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) today, 15 March.

The WCRD is an annual event celebrating the historic declaration in 1962 of the “Bill of Consumer Rights” by the late US President John F. Kennedy.

In a press release, the EcoWaste Coalition prodded the presidential bets to tell the public how they intend to serve the consumer interest against spiraling prices, shoddy goods and services, unfair business practices and toxic-laced products.

“To enable voters who are also consumers to make sound choices come May 10, we deem it essential for the presidential wannabes to integrate the promotion and protection of consumer rights into their electoral platforms,” said Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“This will include the right of consumers to clean and safe air, water and soil that is free from toxins that can harm humans, especially the children, and the ecosystems,” he pointed out.

“We also find it important for the next administration to initiate a holistic review of how Republic Act 7394 has been implemented since it was approved in 1992, particularly in ensuring high safety standards for food and other common consumer and household products,” said Alvarez.

R. A. 7394 is the Consumer Protection Act, a comprehensive law that seeks to promote and protect the general welfare of consumers. The law, among other requirements, seeks to implement measures that will:

- safeguard consumers against hazards to health and safety;
- protect consumers against deceptive, unfair and unconscionable sales acts and practices;
- provide consumers with information and education to facilitate sound choice and the proper exercise of their rights;
- provide consumers with adequate rights and means of redress; and
- involve consumer representatives in the formulation of social and economic policies.

The EcoWaste Coalition recalled that on 15 March 1962, Kennedy, speaking before the US Congress, pointed out that “if a consumer is offered inferior products, if prices are exorbitant, if drugs are unsafe or worthless, if the consumer is unable to choose on an informed basis, then his dollar is wasted, his health and safety may be threatened, and national interest suffers.”

Kennedy declared the right to safety, the right to choose, the right to information and the right to be heard as four basic consumer rights, which eventually led to the adoption of the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection in 1985.

Over the years, these four basic rights have increased to eight with the addition of the right to the satisfaction of basic needs, the right to redress, right to consumer education, and the right to a healthy and sustainable environment.

To further stress the value and importance of consumers, the EcoWaste Coalition cited Mahatma Gandhi who said: “A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work - he is the purpose of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us the opportunity to serve him.”

-end-

Additional information for the media:

The eight basic consumer rights, as defined by Consumers International, a 50-year old federation of over 220 consumer groups from 115 countries dedicated to securing a fair, safe and sustainable future for consumers in a global marketplace, are:

The right to satisfaction of basic needs - To have access to basic, essential goods and services: adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, public utilities, water and sanitation.

The right to safety - To be protected against products, production processes and services which are hazardous to health or life.

The right to be informed - To be given the facts needed to make an informed choice, and to be protected against dishonest or misleading advertising and labelling.

The right to choose - To be able to select from a range of products and services, offered at competitive prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality.

The right to be heard - To have consumer interests represented in the making and execution of government policy, and in the development of products and services.

The right to redress - To receive a fair settlement of just claims, including compensation for misrepresentation, shoddy goods or unsatisfactory services.

The right to consumer education - To acquire knowledge and skills needed to make informed, confident choices about goods and services, while being aware of basic consumer rights and responsibilities and how to act on them.

The right to a healthy environment -To live and work in an environment which is non-threatening to the well-being of present and future generations.

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