IATF to allow partial opening of gyms, internet cafes, aesthetic services starting August 1

Robie de Guzman   •   July 29, 2020   •   824

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has approved the partial opening of more business establishments in areas under general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified (GCQ) starting August 1, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said Wednesday.

According to IATF Resolution No. 59, establishments in GCQ areas that are offering aesthetic services, gyms, fitness centers and sports facilities, internet cafes, personal grooming, pet grooming, testing and tutorial centers as well as review centers and drive-in cinemas will be allowed to operate up to 30 percent of capacity.

The DTI, however, clarified that gyms with contact sports such as karate and boxing are not covered by the measure.

In areas under MGCQ, limited operations will be allowed for establishments offering full body massage, live events, entertainment industries, libraries, archives, museums and cultural centers, and tourist destinations, as well as driving, and dance/acting/voice schools.

The DTI said these businesses will be allowed to partially operate as long as mandatory health protocols, such as physical distancing and sanitation, are followed.

Meanwhile, Malacañang reiterated on Wednesday that President Rodrigo Duterte will make announcements this week about the new community quarantine classification that will be implemented in August.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the president is set to meet with the IATF on Thursday to discuss its recommendations.

Roque also said that aside from the new community quarantine restrictions, the public should also await the “major changes” that will be implemented in the government’s response to COVID-19 pandemic.

The Palace official earlier said that these changes, which will include massive testing, “invigorated” tracing, and creation of more quarantine facilities, will focus more on the policies to contain the public health crisis. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

DTI issues guidelines for online purchases, other e-commerce transactions

Marje Pelayo   •   January 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Trade and Industry’s Bureau of Philippine National Standards (DTI-BPS) issued on Monday (January 18) a Philippine National Standard (PNS) 2155:2020: Guidelines for e-commerce transactions. 

The standard encourages organizations to create more consumer-friendly operations and customer-centric processes.

It covers the entire e-commerce transaction process such as browsing, purchasing, payment, delivery, product tracking, and returns – as well as best customer support practices.

“As more online businesses emerge amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, the demand for guidelines on online transactions also increases,” the agency said.

“The DTI takes seriously the drafting of policies to ensure that online retailers have the capabilities to facilitate online transactions and buyers or consumers to purchase in a safe and secure manner,” it added.

Under the guidelines, the following must be observed during:

Pre-purchases

  • Information on the functionality and benefits of a product/service must be correct as well as health and safety concerns and whether there are guarantees or warranties available. 
  • The product/service marketed should be presented with information and designs that are accurate and reflect the key selling points of the product/service to minimize misrepresentation.
  • Price(s) should be displayed with the applicable currency and product reviews, comparisons, and ratings that can be used to assist customers in making an informed decision.

Purchase activities

  • The online retailers/e-marketplaces must ensure that the information of the product/service being purchased is listed clearly. 
    • This includes the quantity, description, and applicable taxes where applicable. 
    • Other important information includes payment options, delivery options, refunds, and exchange policies. 
  • The online retailers/e-marketplaces should provide a variety of electronic payment options that provide convenience, security, and smooth user experience. 
    • A security strategy should ensure customer data is safe against breaches. 
  • Once the payment is complete, the customer should be notified, which should include all their billing details.

Post purchase

  • Online retailers/e-marketplaces working with third-party logistics providers need to ensure that they adhere to applicable handling protocols and that delivery times are within the estimated time promised to the customer. 
    • Customers are ought to be provided with information on the delivery status. 
  • Online retailers/e-marketplace and the logistics provider should agree on the suitable proof of the delivery method. This could come in various forms such as photo evidence to signatures.
  • Any refund policies should be clear and should include the conditions for refunds, the timeframe for reimbursements, and the method of payments. 
  • Online retailers/e-marketplaces should develop mechanisms to handle customer enquiries, complaints, and dispute resolution.

“The standard encourages greater clarity, transparency, accountability, responsiveness, and accessibility in online transactions, thereby improving consumer confidence and trust to transact online and reduce conflicts and disputes,” Consumer Protection Group Undersecretary Ruth B. Castelo underscored.

Singapore’s Technical Reference on Guidelines for electronic commerce transactions (TR 76) served as reference for PNS 2155 with permission granted by Enterprise Singapore.

The DTI-BPS is the National Standards Body of the Philippines. It is the Philippines’ member to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

PH gov’t forms panel to monitor, identify occurrence of new COVID-19 variants

Robie de Guzman   •   January 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The government’s task force against COVID-19 has created a panel of experts tasked to monitor and identify the occurrence of new coronavirus variants in the country, Malacañang said Wednesday.

The Palace said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) established the technical working group on COVID-19 variants on Tuesday, in compliance with the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The group will be headed by Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, and Executive Director jaime Montoya of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development will serve as co-chair.

Other members of the technical working group are the following:

  • Dr. Anna Ong-Lim of the DOH Technical Advisory Group (TAG)
  • Dr. Marissa Alejandria of the DOH TAG
  • Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvana of the DOH TAG
  • Dr. Celia Carlos of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine
  • Dr. Eva Maria Cutiongco-dela Paz of the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health
  • Dr. Cynthia Saloma of the University of the Philippines – Philippine Genome Center
  • Dr. John Wong of Epimetrics

The technical working group will also provide policy recommendations to the IATF on the appropriate response regarding these coronavirus variants.

The IATF likewise resolved that all foreign travelers coming from countries/jurisdictions covered by travel restrictions for the new variant of COVID-19, or with a travel history in those areas within the last 14 days prior to arrival in the Philippines shall not be permitted entry to the Philippines.

Local/accredited foreign diplomats and international organizations such as the World Health Organization and the United Nations shall be exempted from quarantine protocols as long as they will undergo RT-PCR test upon arrival in the country, execute an undertaking, and observe strict 14-day quarantine.

Also exempted are foreign dignitaries who shall observe existing testing and quarantine protocols upon arrival and those for medical and emergency cases, including their medical escorts.

On the other hand, Filipino citizens coming from countries/jurisdictions where travel restrictions are in place, or who have been to the said areas within 14 days immediately preceding arrival in the Philippines shall strictly observe a facility-based quarantine period, except for highly exceptional and / or medical reasons, which the DOH would determine.

In addition, any individual arriving in the Philippines who may have received vaccination for COVID-19 in other countries/jurisdictions shall still be required to observe the mandatory testing and quarantine protocols.

DTI, nagbabala vs pagbili ng mga iligal at substandard na mga pailaw

Robie de Guzman   •   December 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Muling nagbabala sa publiko ang Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) laban sa pagbili ng holiday lights na walang kaukulang dokumento at product label.

Ginawa ng DTI ang babala matapos mag-inspeksyon sa isang pamilihan sa Quezon City kung saan nakumpiska ang mga pailaw na walang selyo o Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) at Philippine Standard (PS) mark.

May nakita rin ang DTI na mga pailaw na walang maayos na manufacturing label habang ang ilan naman ay nakasulat sa ibang wika.

Ayon kay DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo, delikadong gamitin ang mga ganitong produkto lalo’t isa sa mga dahilan ng mga insidente ng sunog kapag holiday season ay ang mga palyadong holiday lights.

Payo ni Castelo sa mga mamimili, siguruhing may PS mark ang bibilhing produkto dahil nangangahulugan itong pasado ang produkto sa standard.

“Hanapin nila yung PS Mark na ini-issue ng Bureau of Philippine Standards para sigurado silang na-test yung produkto bago nila bilhin. Kasi kung hindi iyon na-test, hindi natin alam, pwedeng safe, pwedeng hindi, pero manghuhula ang consumer niyan,” ang pahayag ni Castelo.

Ayon sa DTI, iligal ang holiday lights na walang kaukulang selyo at maaaring maharap sa mabigat parusa ang may-ari ng tindahan kung hindi nito matutukoy ang importer ng mga naturang produkto.

“Penalty maximum under the Consumer Act as a fine is 300,000 pesos. But there’s a concomitant criminal liability na may kulong. And then we can also file a case, kasong violation ng product labelling yon di ba, may Revised Penal Code pa,” ang pahayag ni Castelo. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

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