Gatchalian urges online platforms to be stricter vs hazardous products

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian called for online selling platforms and the authorities to be more aggressive in going after merchants who sell “deceptive, prohibited, and unconscionable” products online.

In a press release on Saturday, October 17, Gatchalian said that consumer products with hazardous chemicals continue to flood online platforms despite being flagged numerous times.

“We have to accept the reality that online shopping is the new normal. And while online transactions continue to thrive along with the proliferation of unscrupulous sellers, we cannot just sit back and wait until a proper mechanism is in place,” said Gatchalian, who was also the vice chairman of the Senate committee on economic affairs.

Gatchalian cited a report by advocacy network EcoWaste Coalition that said mercury-laden products, such as thermometers and sphygmomanometers, are being sold illegally by third-party dealers in e-commerce marketplaces. In the past, EcoWaste Coalition also flagged other products such as cosmetics and skin-whitening products for containing hazardous material.

The group said it had notified lead regulatory agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural resources. But such products were still found on online marketplaces.

During a virtual Senate committee hearing on online transactions on September 3, Gatchalian bared supplements flagged by the Food and Drug Administration still being sold on online selling platforms Lazada and Shopee.

“These online marketplaces should not only be responsible but also conscientious on what they are offering to the public,” the senator said.

Gatchalian, also the principal author of the proposed Internet Transactions Act, said e-commerce platforms should “share solidary liability with an online merchant” in ensuring the products being sold are not harmful to the consumers.

The Internet Transactions Act aims to create an e-commerce bureau that will be tasked to regulate online selling. It is one of the 21 priority bills of President Rodrigo Duterte during his 5th State of the Nation Address in July.

“We should not allow these e-commerce marketplaces to rake in profits from illegal business practices. Consumers should be mindful of the quality of the items that they purchase online and they need to be assured that the products being offered to them are not harmful, “ Gatchalian said. –