THE Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) wants better merger review guidelines and enforcement in 2019.
During its 2019 budget hearing at the Senate on Friday, PCC Chairman Arsenio M. Balisacan said, “On our merger review (for 2019), we will improve our merger review processes in ease of doing business.”
For competition enforcement, the PCC Chairman added, “We would like to cast a wider net in order to investigate (and) monitor enforcement cases.”
PCC said it will fine-tune its current guidelines regarding its merger review, and is looking at terminating simple cases early, a review of the notification threshold of mergers and updating the merger notification manual.
“We will also strengthen the mechanisms in monitoring and (auditing) manual transactions with imposing remedies in anti-competitive mergers,” said Mr. Baliscan.
PCC will likewise oversee non-notified mergers and acquisitions that could possibly lessen competition and evaluate remedies on anti-competitive M&As.
The Commission also plans to establish new rules regarding merger reviews, such as a more streamlined merger review process in public-private partnership (PPP). It also wants to exclude some classes of M&A from compulsory notification if the M&A would not lessen competition.
On the other hand, the Commission is looking to set up a IT Forensics Laboratory and start-up toolkit for cartel investigations “to further strengthen our enforcement capability.”
Another measure to boost competition enforcement is PCC’s plan to create a Leniency Program, which aims to “encourage voluntary disclosure of information in exchange for immunity or reduction of fines.”
Last June, PCC signed a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Justice to collaborate in anti-competitive cases.
Republic Act No. 10667 or the Philippine Competition Act states in Section 35 that PCC “shall develop a Leniency Program to be granted to any entity in the form of immunity from suit or reduction of any fine which would otherwise be imposed on a participant in an anti-competitive agreement.”
Finally, the PCC also plans to employ bid-rigging screening tools with its partner agencies.
From February 2016 to August 2018, the Commission has reviewed and approved 146 M&A transactions with the total worth of P2.4 trillion. PCC has also completed seven preliminary inquiries and is currently monitoring four ongoing administrative investigations. — G.M. Cortez