L-R: Kamuning Bakery Café owner Wilson Lee Flores; Senator Cynthia A. Villar; PCC Commissioner Stella Luz A. Quimbo; PCC Commissioner Johannes Benjamin R. Bernabe
At a recent media forum, PCC Commissioners Stella Luz A. Quimbo and Johannes Benjamin R. Bernabe reminded the business community, government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs), and other entities involved in trade and commerce on the expiration of the two-year transitory period specified in the Philippine Competition Act (PCA) on August 8, 2017.
Comm. Quimbo emphasized that the transitory period allowed businesses to restructure their arrangements or agreements, including contracts, to comply with the law. “In terms of enforcement, the end of transitory period activates the full imposition of fines and penalties of the law towards the violators. This, however, did not prevent the PCC from looking into cases prior to August 8.”
Section 53 of the PCA states that “an existing business structure, conduct, practice or any act that may be in violation of this Act shall be subject to the administrative, civil and criminal penalties prescribed… only if it is not cured or is continuing upon the expiration of two years after the effectivity of this Act.”
Meanwhile, Comm. Bernabe clarified that the transitory period is more related to enforcement than merger control since the PCC has been accepting and reviewing notifications since it started and will continue to do so in a timely manner.
A firm or person found to be in violation may suffer criminal, civil, and administrative liabilities. Penalties include fines ranging from 100 million pesos to 250 million pesos, payment of damages, and imprisonment, added Bernabe.
Sen. Cynthia Villar, the head of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, also joined the media forum to report to the PCC the allegation of an existence of cartel in the garlic industry. Villar asked the PCC to look into a 2014 report of the Department of Justice-Office for Competition (DOJ-OFC) on the operation of the alleged garlic cartel in the country, saying the 2014 occurrence has similar patterns of price spikes that happened in May to June this year.
Comm. Quimbo said that the agency could investigate the case right away upon receiving the request, assuring Senator Villar and the public that the DOJ-OFC study on garlic cartels “would not go to waste.” We have rules and procedures to follow. If the Commission decides to open the case, this report will be taken into consideration.
The event was held on July 14, 2017 at the Kamuning Bakery Café and is part of the establishment’s Pandesal Forum, a non-partisan, issue-focused platform that has been running since 2015. PCC’s participation at the forum is part of the Commission’s fresh round of press briefings to remind businesses and consumers of the lapse of the transitory period.