MANILA, Philippines – With four months to go before Christmas, President Benigno Aquino III could not have signed a more fitting law than one seeking to protect children against hazardous toys.
Aquino signed Republic Act No. 10620 known as ‘Toy and Game Safety Labelling Act of 2013” ensuring the protection of children against possible health hazards by requiring special labelling of toys and games to prevent their release to the market, according to Malacañang in a statement issued Friday.
Authored by Senators Manuel Villar, Jr. and Miriam Defensor-Santiago, the law requires that “toys and games locally or internationally manufactured that are imported, donated, distributed and sold in the Philippines shall comply with the provisions on safety labelling and manufacturer’s markings found in the Philippine National Standards for the safety of toys.”
RA 10620 orders the distributor to appropriately label toys, which were found to have “substances or mixture of substances which are considered toxic, corrosive, irritant, a strong sensitizer, flammable or combustible, or generates pressure through decomposition, heat or other means.”
In a test conducted jointly by the pro-enviroment group Ecowaste Coalition and International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN), toys sold in Metro Manila contained at least one of the following chemicals—lead, mercury, chromium, antimony, arsenic and cadmium.
These chemical substances were the usual cause behind substantial injuries and illness among children when they accidentally ingest small parts of toxic toys.
Concerned government agencies will collaborate to fully execute the newly-passed law. Unlabelled toys traced with toxic chemicals will be confiscated and disposed by the Bureau of Customs (BOC), the same statement said.
As for the advisories, the law tasked the Department of Health (DOH) to publish “every six months the list of all misbranded or banned hazardous substances” to disallow the sale and distribution of toys ridden with toxic chemicals.
In turn, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will secure the rules and regulations which would mark the coverage of the Toy and Game Safety Labelling Act of 2013.
The annual budget allotted for the implementation of RA 10620 will fall under the budgets of Trade and Health offices, the statement said.
“In the case of bulk sales of such product when unpacked, the cautionary statement shall be displayed on the bin or container used for the retail display of the product, and any vending machine from which the unpacked product is dispensed and displayed, in English or Filipino or both written in common language, in conspicuous and legible type in contrast by typography, layout, or color with other printed matter on such package, descriptive materials, bin, container and vending machine, and in the manner consistent with the provisions of Republic Act No. 7394, otherwise known as the Consumer Act of the Philippines,” it said.
Under the law, failure of persons, who are responsible for the safety labelling and manufacturer’s markings, to comply with the provisions of the act will cost them a fine of ranging between P10,000 up to P50,000.
Depending on the respective court’s decision, the erring distributors, likewise, might serve a prison sentence for “not less than three months but not more than 2 years.”