‘NO RULES, NO SEIZURE’: DTI-Iloilo on wait-and-see mode on lato-lato

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Iloilo said it cannot yet confiscate non-compliant variants of the popular ‘lato-lato’ or clacker toys due to a lack of guidelines.

DTI-Iloilo Provincial Director Dinda Tamayo reiterated DTI-Western Visayas Regional Director Ermelinda Pollentes’ statement on the regional office’s position on lato-lato.

“While we acknowledge the public’s concerns, we kindly request your patience as we await the necessary guidelines. Rest assured that once we receive them, we will promptly disseminate the information to the public and implement the required measures to monitor the production and sale of ‘lato lato’ toys effectively,” according to Pollentes’ statement as read by Tamayo.

Lato-lato, a toy consisting of two balls connected by a thin rope or string, has become a craze among the youth. It produces a distinct sound that can be heard even a few meters away.

It originated from science toys or clackers that were used to demonstrate Newton’s laws of motion, particularly the third law of motion which states that when two bodies interact, they apply forces to one another that are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction. It is also known as the law of action and reaction.

Tamayo explained that they could not move without the proper guidelines from the DTI central office and its relevant attached agencies, as well as other concerned agencies like the Department of Health.

She said the guidelines may be prioritized soon, citing the possible health hazards such as its chemical components, choking risks, and other physical injuries which may be inflicted while playing with the clacker toys.

“[Pollentes] said that we are still awaiting guidelines from our head office, from the DTI Consumer Policy and Advocacy Bureau [and] Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau, which are the bureaus [of the DTI which are into monitoring and enforcement,” Tamayo explained.

“There are no details where the [toys] came from, and [while] there are brands, but then we don’t have guidelines on what and how to monitor, and how we’re going to enforce the law in terms of defending consumers, especially children. That will be prioritized because this is a hot issue now, and [possibly] endangering the health of consumers,”

DTI Consumer Protection Group Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said on Monday, June 19, that the department would assist in confiscating the toys.

Castelo’s statement comes after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Advisory Nos. 2023-1299, 2023-1300, and 2023-1301 all on June 13, warning the public about the health hazards of three variants of the clacker toys being sold online and offline.

The FDA warnings emphasized the fact that these products did not go through the notification process required under the law, for their quality and safety risks.

Republic Act No. 9711 (The Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009) mandates the FDA to ensure the safety, efficacy or quality of health products and household or urban hazardous substances, which include toys.

In Indonesia, the government has initiated a crackdown on lato-lato because of its potential dangers, like being used as a weapon.

A woman in Aklan was wounded this week after she was attacked with a lato-lato. (See story on page 2)