Senate urged to probe fake online ads using celebrities to endorse food, health products

(CNN) Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 3) — Senator Jinggoy Estrada is urging the Senate to investigate fake online advertisements using celebrities to endorse food and health products as they pose danger to public health.

“The circulation and proliferation of fraudulent online advertisements are clear and blatant violations of the Consumer Act which penalizes dissemination of deceptive and misleading advertisements,” Estrada said in a Senate resolution dated June 26.

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

Estrada cited recent incidents where health reform advocate Dr. Tony Leachon and cardiologist Dr. Willie Ong became victims of the fake ads.

Leachon’s name and picture were used to make it look like he was personally endorsing Grandsure Gold nutrient drink which supposedly prevents osteoarthritis. Glufarelin milk, claiming to be a cure for diabetes, also used Leachon and the National Institutes for Health (NIH).

Estrada said the products were not registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Leachon and the NIH have already denied endorsement.

Ong, on the other hand, was seen endorsing a “miracle food” and the Golden Gout Colostrum, supposedly a top product to treat gout but also not registered with the FDA.

CNN Philippines was also victimized in the advertisement of the latter product as it used part of an episode by the network and placed Ong’s photo on the thumbnail.

Estrada noted there were posts and impostor pages that also promoted unregistered products that feature Ong and his wife Dr. Liza Ong with the logo of the Department of Health and an FDA-approved mark. Celebrities Sharon Cuneta and Kris Aquino were also seen to be used in this kind of ads, the senator added.

“There is a need to identify and plug possible loopholes in our prevailing laws and regulations, and update their provisions, considering the extensive employment of social media platforms and the cyberspace, as well as the alarming use of maliciously manipulated images, spliced videos, and fabricated statements, in the promotion of food and health products,” Estrada said.