PHL Competition Act ready for PNoy’s signature

June 10, 2015

After a 24-year wait, a national competition policy prohibiting anti-competitive agreements or conducts and other unfair business practices will soon become a law with the House of Representatives’ ratification of the proposed Fair Competition Law on June 10, 2015.

The consolidated bill’s ratification comes after its approval by the Bicameral Conference Committee during a nine-four marathon session on June 8, 2015.

The proposed Philippine Competition Act will now be sent to President Benigno Aquino III for his signature. The Senate had ratified the bill earlier in the day.

The landmark measure, which was first filed in the 8th Congress, is expected to “usher in stronger measures to protect consumer rights and welfare from the inefficiencies and possible abuses of the market,” said Akbayan party-list Rep. Ibarra Guitierrez III, who is one of the principal authors of the bill and a member of the House of Representatives panel to the bicameral conference committee.

It is a priority measure of the Aquino administration, as well as 16th Congress.

Philippine Competition Commission

Among the salient provisions of the bill is the formation of the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) to implement the national competition policy, functioning as an independent quasi-judicial body attached to the Office of the President.

The PCC is composed of a Chairperson and 4 Commissioners who should have been active in the practice of their professions for at least 10 years in the field of economics, law, finance, commerce or engineering.

Among the powers and functions of the Commission would be:

  1. Conduct inquiry, investigate, and hear and decide on cases involving any violation of the Competition Act and other existing competition laws upon receipt of a verified complaint from an interested party or upon referral by the concerned regulatory agency, and institute the appropriate civil or criminal proceedings;
  2. Issue advisory opinions and guidelines on competition matters, and submit annual and special reports to Congress including proposed legislation for the regulation of commerce, trade or industry;
  3. Monitor and analyze the practice of competition in markets that affect the Philippine economy; implement and oversee measure to promote transparency and accountability; and ensure that prohibitions and requirements of competition laws are adhered to?

Up to P250M fine

The ratified measure provides for a fine of up to P100 million for business entities found engaging in unfair business practices for the first offense, and up to P250 million for the second offense. The amounts are to be adjusted to inflation every five years by the PCC.

For criminal charges, offenders will face two to seven years’ imprisonment in addition to paying the fines.

The passage of a national competition policy has long been pushed by business groups to curb, if not totally eliminate monopolistic commercial behavior, and level the playing field for businesses.

According to the World Economic Forum, the Philippines ranked number 72 out of 144 countries on effectiveness of anti-monopoly policy.

(By Xianne Arcangel – GMA News)