Fake online celebrity endorsements to undergo Senate inquiry


MANILA – A lawmaker on Monday filed a resolution seeking an inquiry on the proliferation of fake celebrity endorsements and misleading social media posts selling unregistered food and drug products.

Senate Resolution No, 666, filed by Senator Jinggoy Estrada, cites the risks to unsuspecting consumers who are offered unregistered products that promise treatment for ailments or wellness benefits using the names and photos of local personalities and celebrities.

“These advertisements mislead consumers into believing that these celebrities are using and endorsing food and medicinal products that are actually unregistered before the proper health authorities and not yet approved for mass distribution and public consumption,” Estrada said in a news release on Monday.

He said bogus medicinal remedies are all over social media platforms, viewed and even shared by thousands despite inaccurate and false information about the efficacy, quality, and safety of food, drugs, and health products.

He cited reports on fake product endorsements by Dr. Willie Ong, an internist and cardiologist with a huge social media following, regarding a miracle food in the form of mixed nuts and by Dr. Tony Leachon, whose name and photos were used to imply his personal endorsement of a product as a cure for diabetes.

According to Estrada, the circulation and proliferation of fraudulent online advertisements are clear and blatant violations of the Consumer Act, which penalizes the dissemination of deceptive and misleading sales promotion practices.

“There is an urgent need to protect consumers against the consumption of unregistered and potentially harmful food and health products through the strict enforcement of the provisions of the Consumer Act and regulation of fraudulent advertisements on social media platforms,” Estrada said.

Estrada noted the need to identify and address possible loopholes of laws and regulations, emphasizing the importance of updating their provisions. (Leonel Abasola/PNA)