THE House committee on trade and industry has approved a consolidated bill creating common-use weighing facilities called “Timbangan ng Bayan Centers” in all markets nationwide.

The bill seeks to institutionalize efforts started by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) which “came to an end due to the lack of funds,” Valenzuela Representative Weslie T. Gatchalian, who chairs the trade and industry committee, said in a statement Sunday.

“On top of allowing consumers to weigh and measure the products they bought, the measure also serves as a deterrent for unscrupulous vendors because the penalties imposed under the Consumer Act will be increased,” he said.

The measure will require all local government units to establish weighing stations in all markets, public or private, big or small, with scales accessible to anyone seeking to verify the accuracy of produce weights purchased from vendors.

The scales are to be maintained by the local government treasurer.

“The practice of vendors manipulating the scales to cheat their customers is far too common in the markets of the country. It is not isolated and it happens everywhere, in Metro Manila, the Visayas and even in Mindanao,”

The measure sets penalties for acts of tampering, vandalism, or destruction affecting the weighing stations.

The bill also imposes stiffer penalties than those found in the Consumer Act for tampering with any scale, balance, weight or measure.

The fine structure ranges from P50,000 to P300,000 plus imprisonment of 1–5 years.

A bill institutionalizing the Timbangan ng Bayan program was approved on third and final reading by the House of Representatives during the 17th Congress but failed to be signed into law. — Genshen L. Espedido