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Cement, power, healthcare top PCC probe list

In a briefing, PCC commissioner Stella Luz Quimbo said the PCC is expected to come out with its findings soon. File

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), the government’s anti-trust body, is investigating the cement, power, garlic and health industries for possible anti-competitive practices, officials said yesterday.

In a briefing, PCC commissioner Stella Luz Quimbo said the PCC is expected to come out with its findings soon.

The commission usually acts on complaints filed by individuals.

In the case of power, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi had requested PCC to look into the possible collusion among power players in July last year, said PCC commissioner Johannes Benjamin Bernabe.

Bernabe said the commission decided to expand the inquiry beyond the July 2016 power blackouts to see if there were similar incidents in the past.

Quimbo, meanwhile, said while PCC is not yet looking into possible anti-competitive practices in the transportation sector, it has identified the industry as a priority sector which means that the PCC could conduct market studies to see if there are any indications of anti-competitive behavior.

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The commissioners said the ongoing investigations into the four sectors – except for the case concerning the health industry which may already be decided soon – may take up to two years from the time the PCC started looking into it.

“‘On health, we expect that to be completed soon,” Quimbo said.

If there are findings of anti-competitive behavior, the PCC will give the concerned parties a chance to air their side through a judicial process.

The PCC, created under Republic Act 10667 or the Philippine Competition Act, is chaired by economist and former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan.

It is mandated to implement the national competition policy by regulating anti-competitive conduct and protecting the well-being and efficiency of competition markets for the benefit of consumers and businesses.

Specifically, it seeks to protect consumers by giving them more choices over goods and services at lower prices in the market and to promote competitive businesses, large or small, that will, in turn, encourage economic efficiency and innovation in the country.

Mergers and acquisitions with a transaction value of at least P1 billion need the approval of the PCC.

The PCC also ensures that entities do not abuse their dominant position by engaging in conduct that will =substantially prevent, restrict or lessen competition.

These include predatory pricing, imposing barriers to entry in an anti-competitive manner and unfair exercise of monopsony – a situation where there is one buyer and many sellers.

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