Death of author breathes life to Philippine Fair Competition Act

May 13, 2015 5:19 am 

By Sammy F. Martin

MANILA, May 12 (PNA) — The House of Representatives has finally approved on second reading the proposed Philippine Fair Competition Act, which had been originally proposed in the 8th Congress by demise Tarlac Rep. Enrique “Henry” Cojuangco.

Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio Rafael del Rosario, one of the co-authors of House Bill 5286, or the consolidated version of the proposed Philippine Fair Competition Act, said the measure was expected to pass on third and final reading next week.

"The Senate already approved its version so the next step is the bicameral conference. We may conduct the bicam in June, del Rosario said in a chance interview.

"We tried to satisfy as many congressmen as we could without watering down this version," he said.

The bill, which has been approved through viva voce, aims to minimize, if not totally eradicate, unfair competition, monopolies, and cartels.

During the weekly forum, Ugnayan sa Batasan, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said, "This Philippine Fair Competition Law has been repeatedly filed since the 8th Congress but it has never been succeeded. But this time [the 16th Congress] I think we will succeed."

"It was through the efforts of Rep. Conjuanco of Tarlac that's why the bill will become a law this 16th Congress . . . remember that this is one of the longest bills pending in Congress," Belmonte pointed out.

Cojuangco, the uncle of President Benigno Aquino III, died of aneurysm on Tuesday at the age of 74.

Earlier, the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) and the Philippine Business Groups have repeatedly urged the leadership of the House of Representatives to prioritize the passage of several economic measures, including the proposed Philippine Fair Competition Act.

The measure refers monopoly to a form of market structure in which one entity having earned a privilege or obtained advantage over the others, accounts for the sales of a good or service.

As defined under the measure, mergers are situations where two or more entities, previously independent of one another join together.

These include transactions whereby: two entities combine into one; one entity takes control of the whole or part of another; two or more entities acquire control over another entity and other transaction whereby one or more undertakings acquire control over one or more entities.

The bill also proposes to create the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) that will prosecute those engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices and other such practices with the purpose of preventing, restricting, or distorting competition.

Further, the bill provides for a Transitional Clause in order to allow affected parties time to renegotiate agreements or restructure their business to comply with the law.

According to the measure, the PCC is an independent body which shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction to enforce and implement the competition law.

Likewise, the bill said the PCC is empowered to investigate violations of the competition law, issue subpoena duces tecum and testificandum, cease and desists orders, conduct administrative proceeding, impose administrative fines, issue advisory or legal opinions, and is mandated to submit reports to Congress, including proposed legislation for the regulation of commerce, trade and industry.

Under the bill, any person who fails or neglects to comply with any term or condition of a binding ruling, a cease and desist order or an order for readjustment issued by the commission, shall pay a fine of not less than Php50,000 and not more Php2 million for each violation.

The measure, however, said that the decisions of the Commission are appealable to the Court of Appeals, with the Supreme Court as the court of last resort.

The commission may also impose upon entities fines of up to Php1 million where, intentionally or negligently, they supply incorrect or misleading information in any document, application or other paper filed with or submitted to the commission.

The bill also provides that an entity that enters into any anti-competitive agreement or conduct as defined under this act shall, for each and every violation, be penalized by imprisonment from five to ten years or a fine up to 10 percent of the annual turnover based on the audited financial statements of violator during the previous fiscal year or up to 10 percent of the value of the assets of the violator, whichever is higher, or both imprisonment and fine. (PNA)

RMA/SFM

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