(INQUIRER) MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Jinggoy Estrada on Monday called for a Senate inquiry into what he described as an “alarming” proliferation of purported celebrity endorsements and social media posts that promote unregistered food and drug products, but which advertisements turned out to be fake.
In a resolution, Estrada noted how unscrupulous individuals have supposedly been exploiting the popularity of a number of celebrities and using their photos in advertisements and social media posts to promote unregistered health products.
“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,” he said.
Estrada is calling for an inquiry amid what he termed a “barrage of bogus medicinal remedies” flooding social media platforms and shared by the thousands by unsuspecting netizens.
He cited reports on the alleged product endorsements of Dr. Willie Ong, an internist and cardiologist with a huge social media following, regarding a “miracle food” in the form of mixed nuts.
The name and photos of health reform advocate Dr. Tony Leachon were purportedly used to imply his personal endorsement of a product as a cure for diabetes.
“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.
“[These promotional materials are] providing them with inaccurate and false information about the efficacy, quality and safety of food, drugs and health products,” Estrada said in his Senate Resolution No. 666.
The circulation and proliferation of fraudulent online advertisements, according to Estrada, are “clear and blatant violations” of the Consumer Act of the Philippines, “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.
He expressed alarm over the use of “maliciously manipulated images, spliced videos, and fabricated statements” in the promotion of food and health products.