By Tyrone Jasper C. Piad, October 4, 2021; Business Mirror

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), along with other government agencies, is currently developing a joint administrative order (JAO) aimed at enhancing consumer confidence in e-commerce transactions.

The Trade department has released the draft order recently, which is open for inputs and comments until October 15.

The proposed guidelines seek to inform the online merchants and e-commerce platforms to adhere with the relevant laws, including the rules and regulation on the sale, distribution, production, importation, marketing, sale and transport of products. This is in addition to improving protection for consumers transacting with online merchants.

The online merchants or providers of consumer goods, digital content or product, digital financial services, online travel services, ride-hailing services and online courier and education are covered in the proposed JAO. It also seeks to include e-commerce platforms, online sellers, merchants, e-marketplace or e-retailers.

“To build trust in e-commerce and to protect and uphold the interest of consumers at all times, all online businesses are enjoined to abide by the following rules, as reflected in the ‘Asean Online Business Code of Conduct,’” the proposal said.

As such, the online businesses are reminded to refrain from doing illegal and unfair business practices while upholding value consumer rights. They should always follow the policies, laws and regulations, including conforming to local standards, the draft JAO noted.

“Online businesses shall ensure shared responsibility along the entire supply chain. They shall not compromise product and food safety, not offer products which have been recalled, banned or prohibited, and shall ensure that their services are of highest quality,” the proposal read.

The draft order said online businesses should be transparent when it comes to their prices, including any additional costs. This, as it reminds them to allow customers to review and cancel transactions; and to address the consumer complaints seriously.

The proposed JAO also pointed out the need to protect consumer information and privacy, in addition to establishing a secure online payment setup.

“Through the NPC [National Privacy Commission], the law regulates the collection, recording, organization, storage, updating or modification, retrieval, consultation, use, consolidation, blocking, erasure or destruction of personal data,” it noted.

Through this JAO, the DTI, NPC, Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines, Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and Department of Environment and Natural Resources are set to monitor and enforce the policies.

The DTI earlier this year said it aims to boost the contribution of the e-commerce industry to P1.2 trillion by 2022, which is equivalent to 5.5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

In a survey released by global fraud detection company Vesta last month, it revealed that online shoppers in the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia identified safety and security as primary concerns for electronic and mobile commerce. As such, they seek solutions that can enhance protection against fraud when making their online purchases.