The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is trying to strengthen its powers against online fraud and scams.
Undersecretary Victorio Mario Dimagiba of DTI’s consumer protection group says the government agency is proposing amendments to Republic Act 7394, Consumer Act of the Philippines, to cover online shopping and e-commerce transactions, among other things.
The amendments also identify eight consumer rights: basic needs, choice, representation, redress, education, safety, healthy environment and information. DTI will expand its jurisdiction to cover mass media trades through the Internet, mobile phones and similar electronic devices, which are used not just for scams and frauds but to annoy people 24/7 with offers of all sorts of things.
Almost every month I get e-mail or hear personally from victims of online fraud and scams. Doubtful of the government’s ability to penalize the offender, they want to share their experiences to alert potential victims.
I am sure that, once the amendments are passed, DTI will be inundated with complaints. I just hope its technical people are up to the task. The one thing that emboldens scammers is the thought that cyberspace makes them virtually unidentifiable and difficult to track.
But, as experience in the United States and other Western countries show, virtual does not mean impossible. It may take a little longer but authorities eventually catch up with the culprits.
Update on fire hydrants
In line with Fire Prevention Month, Maynilad Water Services corporate communications head Cherubim G. Ocampo-Mojica appeals to citizens to “help in maintaining the integrity and accessibility of the fire hydrants… to immediately report those who are tampering and illegally withdrawing water from these hydrants,” so as not to hinder the work of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and water companies.
While assuring the public that Maynilad is committed to providing reliable water for domestic use or fire-fighting purposes, Mojica says: “Water theft and unauthorized use of fire hydrants compromise the safety and reliability of water supply to our customers.” She asks local authorities to help ensure that the fire hydrants are free from any obstructions.
She explains the shift to “spring type” hydrants, which are concealed and not easy for non-firefighters to recognize. Unlike the old wet barrel type that looked like the robot R2D2 from “Star Wars,” spring type hydrants, Mojica says, are installed at ground level and more tamper-resistant.
Maynilad also provides BFP with maps and valve keys to withdraw water from these hydrants when needed. Barangay officials are also advised of the hydrants’ locations so they can firefighters.
Mojica adds that Maynilad conducts fire hydrant inspections, testing, repair and maintenance in its service area every three months to ensure sufficient water supply and pressure. It repaints fire hydrants and their markings for easier identification.
“We also relocate obstructed hydrants to make them accessible to firefighters because residents and sidewalk vendors build over (or around) hydrants from time to time,” she says.
Aside from hydrants, Maynilad also provides cisterns or elevated tanks in certain areas for firefighting purposes.
For concerns about fire hydrants, those in Maynilad’s service area can call the hotline 1626. Customers of Manila Water Company Inc. can call the hotline 1627.
Try to catch the Philippine Orchid Society’s “Flora Filipina Expo” that runs till March 9 at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City. It is a one-stop shop for plants and gardening supplies and tools.
Send letters to The Consumer, Lifestyle Section, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1098 Chino Roces Ave. cor. Mascardo and Yague Sts., 1204 Makati City; fax 8974793/94; or e-mail [email protected]