THE Manufacturers Life Insurance Co. (Phils), Inc. or Manulife Philippines has disputed the antitrust watchdog’s charge that the insurance company participated in anti-competitive agreements.

“We are aware of the recent charges against Manulife Philippines by the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) and we believe the claim is without merit and will vigorously defend our position,” the insurer said in an e-mail on Thursday.

Manulife Philippines is one of eight insurers, along with the state-led secondary mortgagor, that are charged by the enforcement office of the PCC for entering into anti-competitive deals that cornered a type of insurance for almost four decades.

PCC said that the companies have been “exclusively and indefinitely” providing mortgage redemption insurance (MRI) to borrowers whose loans have been assumed by the National Home Mortgage Finance Corp.

The commission said that the exclusive arrangement deprived borrowers of options for better terms or lower premium rates in choosing MRI coverage.

Borrowers whose home loans have been assumed by the secondary mortgagor obtain an MRI as a form of security that ensures outstanding loans will be settled in the event of the borrower’s death.

Manulife Philippines said that the company works with integrity and is “committed to doing the right thing.”

The insurance company declined to comment further given that the issue is part of an ongoing case.

The counsel for the eight companies’ “Pag-IBIG MRI Pool” Ronald P. de Vera said in a phone interview on Wednesday that the pool will file a response to the PCC on Feb. 9.

“We’ll be filing our side within the period provided by the rules. We expect that to be filed within the next few days,” he said. — Jenina P. Ibañez