PCC chairperson Arsenio Balisacan, in a press briefing in Malacañan, said that with the transitory period ending on August 8, businesses which still do not comply with the provisions of the Philippine Competition Act could be meted out with substantial fines and penalties.
“The PCA provides a two-year transitory period to allow affected parties time to renegotiate agreements or restructure their businesses to comply with the PCA. Upon expiration of the transitory period on August 8, 2017, an existing business structure, conduct, practice or any act which violates the PCA shall be subject to the administrative civil and criminal penalties,” Balisacan said.
According to Balisacan, after due notice and hearing, the PCC may impose administrative fines of up to 100 million on the first offense and up to 250 million on the second offense.
“Aside from the fines, the penalty of imprisonment of up to seven years may be imposed by the courts upon directors and officials of any corporation involved in an anti-competitive agreement,” he added, noting that by next week, these fines and penalties with imprisonment will be in full force and effect.
Illegal acts under the PCA include anti-competitive agreements such as cartels and bid rigging; abuse of dominance; and anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions.
Balisacan said the PCC has so far received a total of 26 queries and complaints for possible anti-competitive conduct in various industries, three of which have advanced to preliminary inquiry and subsequently progressed to full administrative investigation.
He said there are those in the manufacturing sector, public services sector, and agriculture sector.
In the same briefing, Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Marie Banaag announced that President Rodrigo Duterte has signed three new laws:
Republic Act No. 10928, which extended the validity of regular passports from five years to 10 years, except for individuals under 18 years old.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs or the DFA may limit the period of validity to less than 10 years whenever the national economic interest or political stability of the country would be put into question. And that would be the time that the DFA may exercise their prerogative whether to give a 10 years passport or not,” Banaag said.
The second is Republic Act No. 10930, which extended the validity of driver’s license to five years. The new law adds that if a driver commits no traffic violation within five years, he may be entitled to a renewal of 10 years.
The third is Republic Act No. 10929, which created the Free Public Internet Access Program.
“This would cover public places such as government offices, state universities and colleges, hospitals and health centers, parks, plazas, libraries, airports and seaports, transport terminals,” Banaag said.
“Under this program, connecting to public Internet access points will be free of charge. The free Internet service provided will be separate from the Internet service used for back-end computer and information systems in government offices, and technical solutions restricting access may be employed when a clear and present technical risk has occurred,” she added.
Banaag also confirmed the decision of the Office of Executive Secretary to suspend for four months without pay Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) chairman and CEO Jose Vicente Salazar for insubordination.