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PCC: Low awareness among Filipinos obstructs Philippine competition policy

In a forum organized by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, PCC commissioner Stella Quimbo said “very few people” have an appreciation for competition concerns despite the ratification of the Philippine Competition Act two years ago. Paulo Alcazaren/File

MANILA, Philippines — Filipinos still lack familiarity with the importance of competition in the market, according to a Philippine Competition Commission official, who also cautioned that small businesses might be unknowingly engaging in anti-competitive activities due to lack of awareness.

In a forum organized by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, PCC Commissioner Stella Quimbo said “very few people” have an appreciation for competition concerns despite the ratification of the Philippine Competition Act two years ago.

Citing a 2017 awareness survey conducted by the PCC, Quimbo said “76 percent agreed that price fixing is unfavorable while 74 percent wrongly believed that when competitors divide the market into territories, consumers benefit.”

She added that 68 percent “cannot say for sure if they prefer to have more choices in the market,” which according to her is a clear indication that “the Filipino consumer does not feel empowered.”

Meanwhile, a separate survey funded by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation revealed that small and medium enterprises cannot identify how big businesses are anti-competitive, Quimbo also said.

The APEC poll, according to her, likewise showed that the respondents “don’t know how to report possible abuses that might be committed by bigger and dominant firms.”

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“The challenge is to make consumers become more familiar of competition law because they can be important triggers for opening cases,” the PCC official said.

The PCC, created under Republic Act 10667 or the Philippine Competition Act, is an independent, quasi-judicial body mandated to implement the national competition policy by regulating anti-competitive conduct.

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.

It was established with the premise that markets with enough competition directly benefit the poor. This is because competitive markets offer a wider variety of goods and services at the lowest possible prices.

Last August 9, the competition watchdog has started imposing penalties on entities found violating RA 10667 after the two-year transitory period under that law lapsed last August 8.

To increase the awareness of Filipinos on the country’s competition policy, Quimbo said the PCC should strengthen its partnership with agencies, organizations, academe and the media.

She added that the PCC also needs to work with the government to address policies that cause anti-competitive behavior among private firms.

READ: PCC: Boon or bane?

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