Baguio Council urged DTI to reclassify gadgets as essential goods

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The City Council during last Monday’s regular session, requested the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to reclassify personal computers, laptop or notebook computers, tablets and other information and communication gadgets, as essential goods.

In a resolution, city legislators stated the DTI is tasked to protect and empower the consumers, thus, it is vested with the power to regulate the sale and distribution of consumer goods in the market and as the country is about to enter a new era of technology where products that were not classified as essentials before are now considered as essentials in the everyday life.

The council pointed out that the implementation of the blended learning in the schoolyear 2020-2021 has resulted in the alleged significant increase in the demand for gadgets and has become an alarming concern not only for the parents of students, but, also the city government.

Earlier, DTI classified computers, laptops, desktop, tablets and other such technology gadgets as non-essential goods, thus, the agency cannot exercise price control over the said items.

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According to the council, the on-line classes require the use of computers, laptop, desktop or tablets, pocket Wi-Fi and other mobile and electronic devices, and among the most in-demand gadget at this time, is the laptop because it is lightweight, designed for portability and is battery powered.

With the opening of classes on August 24, 2020, both parents and students are now bracing for the upcoming implementation of the blended learning scheme which combines the online learning, face-to-face classes, and modular printed materials in transmitting the lessons from the schools to the students.

The council claimed with the blended learning strategy and the transition to new normal which expects to see more paperless, cashless and other online transactions, makes the aforesaid gadgets essential to the learning/teaching process that also warrants the imposition of price control to prevent enterprising businessmen from taking advantage of the prevailing crisis in unreasonably increasing their prices.

City legislators raised the observation there has been a sudden surge in the customers of computer shops and stores selling other information and communication technology gadgets because of the demand for such gadgets following the ongoing transition to the newly normal to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the city.

Further, the council underscored the importance of imposing a price control on the aforesaid gadgets primarily because there had been numerous individuals who had been displaced from their jobs during the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) that is why they have no adequate income to purchase such expensive items for the use of their children who will be attending the blended learning.

The councilors asserted the need to make such items affordable to the parents for their children attending classes in various modalities in the coming schoolyear, especially in ensuring that the youngsters will not contract the deadly virus when going to school either on face to face learning or modular classes as they have to still go to school to get the modules.

By Dexter A. See

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