With Typhoon Glenda hogging the news last week, the signing of the Philippine Lemon Law by President Benigno Aquino III slipped by quietly and only came to light this week. The law is officially billed as Republic Act No. 10642.
Signed by the President on July 15, the Philippine Lemon Law strengthens "consumer protection in the purchase of brand-new motor vehicles."
Under the law, locally purchased brand-new motor vehicles should conform to the vehicle manufacturer's or distributor's standards "within 12 months from the date of original delivery to the consumer, or up to 20,000km of operation after such delivery, whichever comes first."
If a defect or condition is found in a vehicle that "prevents it from conforming to the manufacturer's or distributor's standards," the manufacturer or distributor has to make at least four separate repair attempts to resolve the issue. In addition, as compensation for the non-usage of the vehicle while it is under repair, the buyer should be provided by the manufacturer or distributor "a reasonable daily transportation allowance." If, however, the issue remains unresolved during the aforementioned period of 12 months or 20,000km after purchase, the buyer may invoke his or her rights as specified by the law.
The buyer must then file a complaint with the Department of Trade and Industry, which will establish the validity of the issue. Also, any cost incurred in establishing the validity of the complaint shall be shared by the buyer and the manufacturer or distributor.
Now, if a vehicle is found to not conform to the manufacturer's or distributor's standards, the manufacturer or distributor is required to replace the vehicle "with a similar or comparable motor vehicle in terms of specifications and value, subject to availability; or accept the return of the motor vehicle and pay the consumer the purchase price plus the collateral charges." If the buyer opts to purchase another vehicle of higher value and specification from the same manufacturer or distributor, the buyer will shoulder the difference in cost.
If, however, the vehicle is found to conform to the manufacturer's or distributor's standards, the buyer is directed to "reimburse the manufacturer or distributor the costs incurred in validating the complaints."
The Philippine Lemon Law will "take effect 15 days after its publication via the Official Gazette or in any newspaper of general circulation," which means it will be in full force by the end of the month.