Consumer Protection

Manila Bulletin, July 21, 2011 | Go to article overview

Consumer Protection


MANILA, Philippines - Here is one of the greatest ironies in modern commerce:

Would you believe that the biggest and the most affluent consumers in the world have no independent consumer-vanguard in the form of a federal government agency to protect their interest and advance their welfare?

Incredible, but true!

The United States government does not have a federal agency to shield American consumers from defective products and services, protect them from onerous (more often against the buyer) buyer-seller contracts, keep safe their resources - in case of insolvency - from being garnished by lending banks.

However, on matters of consumer advocacy and information, there are Americans who do these in their own private capacity. Thus, we have seen committed individuals like Ralph Nader and Gloria Steinem who took the cudgels for consumers and women's rights, respectively.

Of course, each American state has its own bureau that takes care of consumer welfare. This is in the form of a Better Business Bureau under the office of the governor. Its provisions, objectives, and sanctions differ from one state to another.

In the Philippines, a section in the Department of Trade has function and supervision in consumer protection headed by an undersecretary. I happen to take notice of the recent formation of this new federal agency in the US because our own DTI can pick up a number of terms of conditions in that upcoming Washington bureaucracy.

Back to the Yankee shores: American President Barack Obama has noticed that federal agency void and went to creating the American Consumer Protection Agency. Its function and responsibility are enumerated in the Time magazine issue of July 11, 2011. The four-page news feature is titled, Elizabethan Drama, in reference to Ms. Elizabeth Warren, the presidential appointee who will head that office.

Here are the powers of the new American consumer protection agency:

1)Set to open its doors July 21, its mission is to make "everything from mortgage documents to credit statements fairer and easier to understand, and generally giving the little guy more power against the financial corporate juggernauts. …

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