PCC partners with Ombudsman, DOJ for crackdown on cartels
Richmond Mercurio (The Philippine Star) - June 15, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has strengthened its partnership with the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to crack down on cartels and white collar crimes. 

The PCC said it signed agreements recently with the Office of the Ombudsman and the DOJ toward a more harmonized approach of enforcement against anti-competitive conduct and white collar crimes punishable by the Philippine Competition Act (PCA). 

“The partnerships between PCC and Office of the Ombudsman, as well as with DOJ, are part of the commission’s enforcement of the Antitrust Law through cooperation, parallel efforts, joint task forces and coordinated actions with partner agencies,” PCC chairman Arsenio Balisacan said.

He said PCC’s collaboration with the Ombudsman and DOJ would boost the detection, investigation, and prosecution of anti-competitive practices, monopolization, corruption in the private sector, and combinations in restraint of trade in the country.

The agreements, he said, also extend to different avenues of cooperation such as setting up joint task forces, capacity building programs, and access to relevant information.  

In engaging the Office of the Ombudsman, PCC’s antitrust enforcement may converge with anti-corruption efforts in cases punishable under Section 14 of the PCA.

On the other hand, the agreement with DOJ formalized the long-standing cooperation between the two agencies and paves the way for the harmonized referral system of complaints and the preliminary investigation of offenses of the PCA. 

It also provides a framework for coordination between both agencies in the implementation of their respective programs on leniency and witness protection in the enforcement of competition cases.  

“With the partnerships with the DOJ and the Office of the Ombudsman, this is a stronger push towards the conviction of cartelists who jack up prices to unreasonably high levels, price-fixers who agree not to compete, and bid riggers who game the system to take turns in bagging projects, which are punishable by the competition law,” Balisacan said.   

Cartels and bid rigging as anti-competitive conduct have penalties ranging from P100 million to P250 million, as well as criminal penalties of imprisonment from two to seven years, according to PCC. 

The antitrust authority said more partnerships with other agencies are underway aside from earlier collaborations inked with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Commission on Audit, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Office of the Solicitor General, Philippine Statistics Authority, and Insurance Commission.

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