Senate Minority Floor Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. hates the idea of 'lemon' vehicles being sold in the country. He wants these 'lemons' or defective brand new vehicles bought by unsuspecting Filipino buyers off the country's roads.

Pimentel filed Senate Bill 1812 that seeks to guarantee adequate protection to the rights of consumers in the purchase of motor vehicles against trade malpractices. SB 1812 provides for remedies to victims of false or fraudulent warranties issued by car manufacturers.

In sponsoring the Lemon Law of the Philippines 2004, Pimentel revealed he received a number of complaints from vehicle owners who found out too late that the supposed brand new vehicles they bought do not live up to the quality they were made to believe in.

Among these cases of lemon vehicles were those of Alagad Party-list Representative Rodante Marcoleta and ABS-CBN television news anchor Gene Orejana who both complained of inherent defects in their Mitsubishi Pajero Fieldmaster sport utility vehicles.

"Not only do these poor quality vehicles shortchange their buyers or owners, they also endanger the lives and limbs of passengers," stressed Pimentel. "Congress must therefore, correct this situation by passing legislation that would protect the Filipino consumers by making sure car manufacturers issue and comply with their product warranties."

Pimentel also filed Senate Resolution 104 which called for an investigation in aid of legislation, into the cases of Congressman Marcoleta, Orejana, and seven unsatisfied owners of the Mitsubishi Pajero Fieldmaster SUV.

Under Senate Bill 1812, warranty pertains to the obligations of manufacturers, in relation to materials, workmanships and fitness of a motor vehicle for ordinary use or reasonable intended purposes throughout the duration of the "lemon rights period."

The lemon rights period refers to the period ending 18 months after the date of original delivery to the buyer of the new motor vehicle. This is the period during which the buyer can report any non-conformity to the manufacturer and pursue any of the rights provided in the proposed Lemon Law of the Philippines.

If a new vehicle does not conform to all the warranties, and the buyer reports it to the manufacturer, agent or authorized dealer during the warranty period, the manufacturer, agent or authorized dealer shall make such repair as are necessary to make the complained vehicle conform to the warranty.

SB 1812 further provides that in case of failure to repair or correct the complained defect, the manufacturer or its dealer shall either replace the "lemon" or defective vehicle with a comparative new vehicle, or accept return of the defective vehicle and refund the buyer the full purchase price, including all collateral and incidental charges, incidental damages less a reasonable allowance for the buyer's use of the vehicle up to the date of the first notice of non-conformity with the warranty.

"Local vehicle manufacturers try to squeeze every drop of profit and advantage in selling the Filipino old model vehicles when the newer versions are already available in the other countries. And while car dealers abroad compete with each other by offering big discounts and extensive vehicle warranties, this is more of the exception than the rule in the country," Pimentel lamented.

He also decried the fact that Filipino car buyers usually get much less than his foreign counterpart in terms of quality and value for his peso. - Gene Orejana