MANILA — Sen. Raffy Tulfo on Monday confronted Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) officials for allegedly “ignoring” complaints of individuals duped by so-called networking marketing companies.
“Marami nang insidenteng ganun. Nilalapit ko po yan sa DTI and then again, DTI has been very slow in acting on those complaints... Nagsasawa na ako sa katatawag sa inyo dahil hindi ninyo naman ako sinasagot, iniiwas-iwasan nyo ako. Ngayon, iwasan nyo ako, subukan niyo akong iwasan,” Tulfo said.
Prior to being a senator, Tulfo ran a public service program where he heard various complaints from individuals.
Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual said the issue with multi-level marketing scams cannot be solved solely by the DTI.
“I think it's a problem that we will have to coordinate with other agencies in the government. It is something that cannot be managed or controlled just by DTI alone. We might have to bring into the picture SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) and then the PNP (Philippine National Police) and then other law enforcement agencies,” Pascual said.
Pascual then committed their agencies’ full attention to Tulfo’s concerns on scammers which include unscrupulous individuals who either sell fake products, don’t pay those they hired, or force individuals to sell their products, or require them to pay damaged goods.
Pascual stressed the DTI is now looking at intensifying its educational campaign that would teach people how to detect a fake investment opportunity, or how to choose a trade or investment.
Tulfo likewise brought up the issue of countless multi-level companies duping people to invest with a promised hefty commission or income.
"Ano po ang ginagawa ng DTI para ma-regulate itong mga networking company na by the hundreds and even thousands na po ang naloloko, ang naiisahan?” Tulfo asked.
"Even as we speak na meron pa rin pong mga networking company that are duping the innocent people. Letting them know that they’re gonna make money out of this," Tulfo added.
DTI undersecretary Ruth Castelo said the DTI has been relentless in going after networking companies that victimize people through a promised false investment or scam.
“The DTI has been running after multi-level companies that are not legitimate. We work on this with the Securities and Exchange Commission where we give the information, and who is the proper agency to advice the DTI that they are not legitimate,” Castelo said.
The DTI, in the previous administration, already issued a Memorandum Order regulating the operation of multi-level companies, the official said.
Still, Tulfo was unconvinced, citing the proliferation of multi-level companies duping people, as he pressed agency officials to do more.
Sen. Mark Villar, chairman of the Senate committee on Trade, echoed Tulfo’s stand on the need to strictly monitor the operation of multi-level companies.
“Sometimes there are Ponzi schemes that masquerade as multi-level schemes, and these really have to be, somehow, we must monitor.. It doesn’t seem to be clear, if it falls under the SEC, or if it falls under the DTI. There are different aspects,” Villar said.
A specific law addressing this matter must be passed, the senator added.
Villar also asked the DTI to appoint a real point person to address Tulfo’s concerns, considering that people directly go to him to ask for help.