PCC defines Cartel and Unfair Competition in a roadshow
Asked by Cordillera weavers and food manufacturers if they as a group can set a standard rate for their produce like fruit jams and cellphone cases, lawyers from the Philippine Competition Commission said no because it is considered illegal according to the Philippine Competition Act or Republic Act No. 10667 which was signed into law on July 21, 2015.
The act according to the PCC officials is meant to ensure efficient and fair market competition among businesses engaged in trade, industry, and all commercial economic activities. It likewise prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuses of dominant positions, and mergers and acquisitions that limit, prevent, and restrict competition as that of a cartel.
Department of Trade and Industry-CAR Assistant Regional Director Grace Baluyan who welcomed Cordillera micro, small and medium entrepreneurs or MSMEs during a recent roadshow in Baguio City cited that an efficient market competition breeds entrepreneurship, new investments and adoption of technology innovations. MSMEs are motivated to work harder to be competitive. Likewise, consumers are benefitted because they exercise the right to choose. The DTI official also stressed the crucial role of small players in providing a fair competition in the marketplace.
Atty Genevieve Jusi, Investigation Agent IV of PCC introduced her agency as having four commissioners tasked to look at the country’s fair market practices and go after hardcore cartels, acts of price fixing, bid rigging and other anti-competitive practices.
Jusi explained how PCC handles complaints that affects public interest and other reasonable grounds such as abuse of dominant position. The PCC also issue administrative fines to erring entities with criminal acts relating to unfair competition. Jusi further stressed that complainants or victims of the anti-competition act are not the complainant but PCC as the concerned agency.
In cases where cartel is investigated, Jusi said the difficulty is establishing an agreement between the players.
Atty. Jasmine Rose Maquiling discussed Anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant positions and why these should be prohibited. In essence, the lawyers pointed out that healthy competition ensures that no single entity controls the price of commodities and this can lead to lower prices and higher quality of products as businesses strive for efficiency and increased market share.
On the Rules of Leniency, Atty. Nina Remedios Mejia outlined the salient provisions of the Act like the immunity from suits and administrative or criminal liabilities arising from the Philippine Competition Act particularly if the subject is a participant in an anti-competitive agreement like a cartel.
According to Mejia, there is a marker system which secures an applicant’s position in the queue for leniency while evidence is being gathered. The applicant can be granted immunity from suits if he or she qualifies in providing relevant information of participation to an anti-competition act Mejia added.
Saying “kung walang kumpetisyon, konsyumers ay talo” she expounded on the “Sabwatan” agreement practices like price fixing, market allocation, bid rigging and rotation of bidders to suppress other interested parties. The lawyer also discussed output restriction practices that increases the demand to their advantage which was likewise expounded by participating DTI personnel in explaining to the MSMEs how such practices affects smaller enterprises and the consumers as a whole. **Art Tibaldo