THE Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) is set to roll out this year three programs intended to strengthen its campaign against cartels and anticompetitive practices.
In his year-end report, PCC Chairman Arsenio M. Balisacan said the three programs are aimed at sharpening the competition law’s tooth. These three items—Leniency Program, Rules on Forbearance and Rules on Inspection Orders—are critical components expected to strengthen and complete the PCC’s enforcement framework, Balisacan added.
“This January 2019, we will be rolling out the commission’s Leniency Program. This program is expected to significantly improve our ability to detect cartels and increase the number of cartel investigations in the coming years,” he said.
“To use our enforcement resources more efficiently, we will be issuing the Rules on Forbearance, which will allow an entity or group of entities to be exempted from certain provisions of the PCA [Philippine Competition Act] under very specific circumstances and stringent conditions,” Balisacan said.
The PCC chief said the competition body will be endorsing its proposed Rules on Inspection Orders or dawn raids to the Supreme Court.
On top of these programs, the PCC will be carrying out a task force on the biddings of infrastructure projects listed under the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program.
“With the Office of the Ombudsman and the Commission on Audit as key partners, the commission will adopt a tripartite action plan and formally constitute a joint task force to investigate bid rigging in public procurement. As the government ramps up its Build, Build, Build program, ensuring a clean selection process in public procurement is key to extracting the best value for our taxpayers’ money,” Balisacan said.
The young agency also looks to mainstream its programs and the PCA itself this year, after seeing little improvement in the public awareness on both the body and the law. According to the year-end report, household awareness of the PCC rose to 4.1 percent last year, from 0.5 percent in 2017, and of the PCA to 0.99 percent from 0.4 percent.
“These figures indicate the need and opportunities for more targeted competition advocacy efforts among the commission’s stakeholders. Again, keeping in mind that advocacy is a cost-effective way of preempting anticompetitive conduct, the commission is committed to its objective of mainstreaming a culture of competition, not just among consumers and businesses, but among the members of Congress, sector regulators and the Judiciary, as well,” Balisacan said.
The PCC also vowed to implement a multiyear work plan to review laws, bills and regulations that hamper competition.
“As the nation’s competition champion, the commission shall be more proactive in its engagement with Congress and sector regulators by reviewing existing laws and regulations that restrict competition in various markets,” Balisacan added.