Wes Gatchalian: P1,000 penalty for ‘madaya sa timbang’ not enough

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Billy Begas

House Deputy Speaker and Valenzuela Rep. Wes Gatchalian lauded the swift ratification of the “Timbangan ng Bayan” bill.

The measure provides Filipino consumers a tool to confirm the accuracy of the quantity and measurement of the products they’ve bought in all public and private wet markets, dry markets, tiangges, and even grocery stores and supermarkets.

Gatchalian, chairperson of the House Committee on Trade and Industry when the bill was approved, said consumers basically rely on the accuracy of the weighing instruments of their local suki, and trust that their instruments are working properly.

“There are many reports of vendors who cheat their customers by manipulating the scales. According to my research, this does not just happen just in my district, but unfortunately, it happens all over the country,” Gatchalian said.

Under the current Consumer Act (RA 7394), the only protection to consumers is the testing and calibration of weighing instruments every six months by the local treasurer, designated as the official sealer.

Though penalties are provided, Gatchalian said these only range from P200 to P1,000 which does not serve as a deterrent for unscrupulous vendors.

Under the bill, Timbangan ng Bayan Centers will be established and the market supervisor shall be in charge of the safekeeping and routine maintenance of all timbangan ng bayan instruments.

The supervisor shall also record all products found to be deficient in quantity or is substandard in dimension, as well as the establishment where the same was bought.

It also increases the penalty that may be imposed from P50,000 to P300,000 and jail time of one to five years.

The measure will be submitted to the President for his signature and approval.