Gov’t begins pilot run of online dispute resolution system

The Department of Trade, through its Consumer Policy and Advocacy Bureau (CPAB), announced on Wednesday, June 16, that it will begin the pilot run of the Philippine Online Dispute Resolution System (PODRS) to boost the country’s improved online system to receive and resolve consumer complaints.

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Based on its records on complaints, the DTI has seen a significant rise in reporting consumer complaints due to the sudden increase in online shopping because of the circumstances brought by the Covid-19 pandemic. This rise in consumer complaints went from 2,457 for the whole year of 2019 to 14,799 for the year of 2020.

With this, the DTI proposed the implementation of the PODRS. On September 15, 2020, the DTI issued the Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 20-05, Series of 2020 with the “purpose of developing and establishing an integrated national online system by which all consumer complaints are received, docketed, transmitted, and resolved, providing network facility and limits of disclosure of data to maintain integrity and credibility of the system.”

The PODRS will be piloted in DTI and will eventually serve as the Web-based consumer complaints portal of the country. The PODRS will automate the entire consumer complaints-handling process of the government by interlinking all the member agencies of the Consumer Network (ConsumerNet), or the group of government departments with consumer protection function, to provide redress to those consumers who will file a complaint through the system wherever they may be in the world.       

Through the assistance of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) – University of the Philippines Public Administration Research and Extension Services Foundation, Inc. (UPPAF), the DTI will undertake the following phases to establish and operationalize the pilot run of the PODRS: Phase 1 is the PODRS Assessment, Phase 2 is the PODRS Functional Specifications and Workshop, Phase 3a is the PODRS Compliance: Data Privacy, Security, Risk Management, and Phase 3b is the PODRS Systems Development.

Currently on its Phase 1, the DTI and the UPPAF are in the process of assessing the process and tools used for the DTI consumer complaints management to arrive at recommendations on functionalities to be included in the development of the PODRS.

As stated in the DAO No. 20-05,  the PODRS will serve as the Web-based consumer complaint portal of the country where consumers can file complaint and seek redress in relation to the product purchased or service availed either online of offline from a business establishment or platform located in the Philippines.

The DTI is mandated to ensure that the process of handling and resolving consumer complaints and disputes are streamlined and harmonized through the PODRS, and also, make available dedicated channels of communication such as but not limited to telephone, e-mail and social media platforms for easy access regarding consumer queries and complaints.

As the team leader of the PODRS team, DTI assistant secretary Ann Claire C. Cabochan will oversee the management of the project for the immediate completion of the PODRS.

“The system will help both the DTI and the consumers because through the online platform, it will be easier to document and track every process of a complaint,” she said.

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