PCC expands to key regional centers

Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - June 14, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) is expanding its presence by setting up investigation hubs in Baguio City and Legazpi City this year, and regional offices in Cebu City and Davao City next year.

“To further strengthen our institutional capacity for greater productivity, we will be expanding PCC’s portfolio of enforcement and advocacy work. In particular, we aim to establish investigation hubs in key commercial centers this year,” PCC chairman Arsenio Balisacan said during the Joint Foreign Chambers’ virtual forum on “Enhancing Competition for Competitiveness and Economic Recovery.”

The plan involves establishing investigation hubs in Baguio City and Legazpi City by September this year.

“The investigation hubs in Cebu and Davao are planned to be transformed into PCC regional offices next year,” Balisacan said.

He said competition policy enforcement remains relevant during the pandemic, as well as in recovery.

He also said the PCC continues to actively monitor merger and acquisitions (M&As) even as the exercise of its motu proprio review of such deals has been suspended for a year, and M&As with a transaction value below P50 billion are exempted from its review for two years under the Bayanihan 2 law.

“We are looking forward to September 2021 when the provision in Bayanihan 2 that suspends motu proprio review will lapse. By then, we will be able to review merger transactions in the past year and identify those that may have led to anti-competitive effects,” he said.

He added the PCC is hopeful the suspension of the motu proprio review would not be extended under the proposed Bayanihan 3 bill.

The Bayanihan 3 bill, which seeks to provide a P401 billion relief package for those severely affected by the pandemic, has been approved on third and final reading at the House of Representatives.

So far, the PCC has received a total of 225 M&A transactions, of which 214 were approved.

In terms of competition enforcement, Balisacan said more and more are realizing what PCC can do for them as the antitrust body has been receiving  an increasing number of inquiries and complaints.

As of June 6, a total of 659 queries and informal complaints have been received by the PCC.

Moving into the new normal, he said the PCC would continue to be vigilant in market monitoring and enforcement.

“We will always be mindful and work for the protection of  consumer welfare, a fair playing field for businesses, and pro-competitive government interventions. An equal playing field during and post pandemic will ensure a faster and more stable economic recovery,” he said.

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