The Association of South East Asian Nations is acknowledged as a “growing and dynamic” regional market and production base that faces various challenges in the socio-economic, technological and politico-legal spheres. To consolidate its advantage as a common market, it must address issues on consumer protection and safety.
This is what led Asean to develop the AEC Blueprint 2025, which contains strategic measures “to ensure comprehensive and well-functioning national and regional consumer protection systems by 2025, enforced through effective legislation, redress mechanisms, and public awareness.”
These measures were later elaborated under the Asean Strategic Action Plan for Consumer Protection 2025.
A recent initiative by the Asean Secretariat is the conduct of a training workshop that sought to promote consumer protection awareness in Asean member states. Funded by the Asean-Australia Development Cooperation Program Phase II, the workshop was conducted at Pan Pacific Manila on Sept. 3 to 7 by a team of consultants from the De La Salle University Center for Business Research and Development.
Attended by government officials and employees from various consumer protection agencies in the different Asean member states, the workshop focused on consumer protection in six priority sectors: (1) consumer credit and banking, (2) product safety and labeling, (3) environment, (4) phones, internet services and e-commerce, (5) healthcare services and (6) professional services.
Titled “Validation Workshop for Developing Teaching Tools in Six Consumer Protection Priority Sectors” or simply “Training of Trainers”, the workshop utilized training manuals and other materials developed by the DLSU-CBRD team based on technical manuals provided by the Asean Secretariat.
The DLSU-CBRD training team who designed and delivered the training program is composed of Dr. Divina Edralin (team leader), Dr. Jaime Cempron, Dr. Emiliano Hudtohan, Dr. Ronald Pastrana, Dr. Ana Liza Asis-Castro and Ms. Jennelyn Gannaban. Providing technical expertise are Dr. Anthony Chiu, Dr. Nelson Celis, Mr. Benel Lagua and Ms. Alice Pham.
The main goal of the validation workshop was to assess whether the training manuals and the proposed training methods will be useful to the different Asean government officials and employees, who are expected to echo the training they received other personnel involved in consumer safety and protection efforts in their respective countries.
The workshop covered substantive consumer protection issues, pre-market interventions, post-market interventions and redress mechanisms. A variety of topics were tackled including consumer confidence in online transactions, irresponsible lending practices, access to safe water, medical malpractice and the sale of substandard products, among others.
This was done through a variety of training methods such as interactive lectures, group discussions, case analysis, video presentations, info-search, role plays, and various structured learning activities. The feedback given by the participants will be used to improve the design of the training manuals before these are made available to concerned government agencies Asean-wide.
Given the generally positive response of the participants and their active engagement during the workshop, we are optimistic that DLSU-CBRD has made its small contribution to promoting consumer protection in the region.
Raymund B. Habaradas is an Associate Professor at the Management and Organization Department of the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University. He does research on corporate social initiatives, social entrepreneurship, and SME development. He is also the Director of the DLSU Center for Business Research and Development and is a Fellow of the center’s Social Enterprise Research Network. He welcomes comments at [email protected]
The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.