Law to promote fair business competition nears passage

THE proposed “Philippine Fair Competition Act” which seeks to penalize all forms of unfair trade, anti-competitive conduct and combinations in restraint of trade is nearing 2nd reading approval by the House of Representatives.

The proposed Act contained in HB 4835, a consolidation of twelve separate measures, is authored and co-authored by 76 lawmakers including Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III 4th District, Quezon), Reps. Antonio Alvarez (1st District, Palawan), Tomas Apacible V (1st District, Batangas), Juan Ponce Enrile, Jr. (1st District, Cagayan), Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2nd District, Pampanga), Diosdado Macapagal Arroyo (2nd District, Camarines Sur), Susan Yap (2nd District, Tartlac), Carlo Alexei Nograles (1st District, Davao City), Jerry Treñas (Lone District, Iloilo City); and Jose Carlos Cari (5th District, Leyte), among others.

The proposed law, the authors said, seeks to prevent the concentration of economic power in a few persons who threaten to control the production, trade, or industry in order to stifle competition, distort, manipulate or constrict the discipline of free markets and increase market prices.

HB 4835, now in the period of interpellation, is being sponsored and defended in plenary jointly by Trade and Industry committee chairman Albert Raymond Garcia, and Committee on Economic Affairs chair Rep. Ramon Durano and the Committee on Appropriations now chaired by Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong.

The measure establishes the Philippine Fair Commission (PFCC), an independent body which shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction to enforce and implement the administrative provisions of the Act.

HB 4835 imposes a fine of not less than P10-million and not exceeding P50-million if the violator is a natural person; a fine of not less than P250-million but not more than P750-million if the violator is a firm, at the discretion of the Commission.

The proposed statute prohibits mergers, consolidations or asset acquisition where the effect of such may be to substantially lessen competition, or tend to create a monopoly. Nevertheless, it also identifies instances where stock or asset acquisition or ownership shall be permissible under conditions set by the Act.

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