MANILA - E-commerce platforms such as Lazada, Shopee and Facebook Marketplace can be held liable for the sale of prohibited electronic products in their channels, a senator said on Wednesday.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said that under a proposed law regulating internet transactions, online merchants, as well as the e-commerce platforms they use, are liable for selling items such as SMS blasters.
Gatchalian issued the statement after the National Telecommunications Commission ordered Lazada, Shopee, and Facebook Marketplace to ban the sale of SMS blasters on their sites.
This was after people covering aspiring candidates in a Manila hotel earlier this month reported receiving an emergency SMS blast promoting former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. for president.
The camp of the late dictator's son and namesake has since denied being behind the text blast, and said it was a ploy to sabotage Marcos Jr.'s campaign.
“The reason why we included the joint and solidary liability in Senate Bill No. 1591 is to make these platforms responsible in protecting the interest of the consumers,” Gatchalian, principal author of the bill, said.
The proposed Internet Transactions Act seeks to protect consumers from unethical, illegal, and unscrupulous business practices of those engaged in e-commerce, Gatchalian said.
E-commerce platforms however have criticized this provision of the bill saying this may stifle the growth of e-commerce in the Philippines.
They also said that it runs contrary to the principle of equal treatment between offline and online businesses when online shopping platforms are held “jointly and solidary liable” with online merchants for products sold that do not comply with intellectual property, consumer protection, and other laws.