DTI Urges Speedy Passage of Competition Law
Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory L. Domingo urges the members of the House of Representatives for the speedy passage of the Competition Law.
“House Bill No. 5286 is now on Second Reading pending calendar of business since the resumption of Session last January 20, 2014. We note that its counterpart bill in the Senate has already been approved on 3rd reading last year through the sponsorship of Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV,” reported Undersecretary Prudencio M. Reyes, head of the Department of Trade and Industry Legislative Liaison.
“We hope that the host of 14 congressmen authoring the bill from various political affiliations, especially the speaker himself and former President will highlight the importance of the bill at the House of Representative,” Undersecretary Reyes added.
Secretary Domingo said that past measures undertaken to liberalize key sectors of the economy need to be reinforced by measures that safeguard competitive conditions. “A competition law will level the playing field especially for micro, small, and medium firms that are at a disadvantage in the market place in reference to competing with the big firms. There is a need to provide equal opportunities to all to promote entrepreneurial spirit, encourage private investments, facilitate technology transfer,” Domingo said.
The proposed measures in both Houses of Congress will create an independent commission tasked to implement the competition law. At the same time, it recognizes the valuable work of the Department of Justice- Office for Competition (OFC) (presently designated as the government’s competition authority as mandated by Executive Order No. 45) and other government agencies in enforcing the competition policies of the government. The DOJ-Office for Competition shall continue to investigate and prosecute all criminal offenses arising under this Act and other competition-related laws.
“Enactment by Congress of such measure will ensure of a strong and more permanent government office, the present office is only created by an executive order,” Undersecretary Reyes said. He also added that an independent enforcement body is best that will autonomously decide without the appearance of being influenced by other government agencies.
“An understanding of the market conditions is critical to the effective enforcement of competition laws and policy,” Secretary Domingo said. “The mandate of the Department is two-edged, to promote business at the same time regulate it. A competition law will add coherence and balance to the market. With the onset of ASEAN integration in the next few weeks, the need to put in place such mechanism is more compelling.”
Regional integration will open up the Philippine market to the nine ASEAN markets, and a competition law in place will surely protect local firms. Undersecretary Reyes is also the DTI Head for ASEAN/APEC SME Trade Facilitation.
Meanwhile, included in both DTI’s and DOJ’s wishlist is to make penalties proportional to the size of the violating firm instead of pegging it in absolute amounts. “Making penalties proportional to the size of the erring firm will ensure that it will curb uncompetitive practices and at the same time will secure that it is not become confiscatory to the point of killing and discouraging small businesses.” Domingo concluded.
Senate Bill No. 2882 entitled “An Act Promoting Fair Competition to Protect Consumer Welfare, Advance Domestic and International Trade and Sustained Economic Development by, Among Others, Regulating Monopolies, Anti-Competitive Agreements, Abuse of Dominant Position and Anti-Competitive Mergers, Establishing the Fair Competition Commission and Appropriating Funds Therfor, And Other Purposes,” is authored by Senators Sergio Osmena III, Teofisto Guingona III, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, JV Ejercito Estrada, Antonio Trillanes IV and Paolo Benigno Aquino IV.
House Bill No. 5286 entitled “Promoting a National Competition Policy for the Philippines, Prohibiting Anti-Competitive Practices in Restraint of Trade, Abuse of Dominant Position, Unfair Competition, Establishing the Philippine Competition Commission, Appropriating Funds Therefor, and for Other Purposes,” is authored by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. and former President and now Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo along with Congressmen Rufus Rodriguez, Maximo Rodriguez, Salvacion Ponce-Enrile, Marcelino Teodoro, Reynaldo Umali, Diosdado Ignacio Arroyo, Teodoro Haresco Jr., Neil Tupas, Sergio Apostol, Anthony del Rosario, Giogidi Aggabao, and Ibarra Gutierrez. (END)