July 16, 2024

The Department of Trade and Industry hosted a briefing session with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and representatives from online shopping platforms Lazada, Tiktok, and Shopee to explore potential joint operations aimed at tackling illegal vape products.

DTI Sec. Fred Pascual said the agency is holding violators accountable by equipping monitoring and enforcement officers with the tools necessary to eliminate these illegal products from the Philippine market.

“Violators are becoming increasingly cunning, infiltrating the market with illegal vape products. We can combat their proliferation through a whole-of-nation approach by collaborating with other government agencies and the private sector,” he said.

The DTI’s Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (FTEB) is actively establishing collaborative partnerships with law enforcement agencies, non-government organizations, and industry associations to ensure robust nationwide implementation of Republic Act 11900 or the Vape Law.

During the briefing, intelligence officers of PDEA, Laila Abad and Lester Urmaza, discussed emerging domestic and global trends in addictive substances.

They highlighted the infusion of psilocybin, or magic mushrooms, and cannabis, or marijuana, into food, drinks, and vape products. Both are listed on the Dangerous Drugs Board’s updated list of Sche-duled Controlled Substances.

Also in attendance during the briefing were Lazada’s Ricky Carandang, Shopee’s Jean Ramirez, and TikTok’s Phillip Fullon. As representatives of the top e-commerce platforms in the country, they inquired about ways to tackle the sale of illegal substances in online markets.

In response, PDEA suggested renewing and updating their memorandum of agreement with the online platforms to better combat the evolving presence of illegal substances in the market. On the other hand, the DTI and PDEA are both seriously looking into future collaborations and joint operations.

This year, the DTI has teamed up with law enforcement agencies that include not just the PDEA, but also the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Philippine National Police, and the National Bureau of Investigation as part of its collaborative efforts to intensify monitoring and enforcement of vape regulations.

The DTI signed a memorandum of agreement with the NBI on June 11, aimed at boosting consumer welfare initiatives with the latter’s investigative and technical expertise.

The DTI has also conducted numerous joint operations with other government agencies and local government units.

Non-compliant vape products were confiscated during a joint operation with the PNP-Southern Police District involving a vape shop just meters away from an elementary school in Baclaran, Parañaque City in April 2024.

Such violations of the Vape Law have led to product confiscations, issuance of notices of violations and show cause orders, as well as the filing of cases.

The DTI encourages the public to report consumer-related violations, or retailers, distributors, and manufacturers who sell uncertified items, through the Consumer Care Hotline at DTI (1-384) or via email at [email protected]. – Press release