THE PHILIPPINE COMPETITION COMMISSION (PCC) on Friday outlined priority sectors for competition analysis this year and said it is investigating suspected irregularities in the auction of the contract for a multimillion-peso government project.
PCC Chairman Arsenio M. Balisacan told reporters of the watchdog’s plan to widen its list of priority sectors this year to include the logistics supply chain, corn milling and trading, refined petroleum manufacturing and trading, sugar and pesticides.
”We chose these industries based on a careful and strategic assessment of their impact on consumers and the probability of enforcement success, among other considerations. The issue papers and studies we have conducted and are presently conducting serve as our springboard to more specific enforcement and advocacy work,” Mr. Balisacan said in a media briefing.
Last year, PCC focused on air transportation, bakery products, e-commerce, fertilizers, land transportation, manufacturing, milk products, pharmaceuticals, poultry and livestock, retail, rice and rural finance.
Since its formation in 2016, the PCC has reviewed 172 mergers and acquisition transactions cumulatively worth P2.8 trillion, Mr. Balisacan said.
He said these deals involve the manufacturing, financial and insurance, real estate, electricity and gas, and transportation and storage sectors, noting that 160 of the 172 transactions — about 93% — have been approved.
In the same briefing, Mr. Balisacan said the PCC is looking into suspected bid-rigging involving a multimillion-peso government project.
”[T]he Commission authorized the commencement of a preliminary inquiry into a possible bid-rigging of a government project awarded in 2017, involving hundreds of millions of pesos. This action is in line with the PCC’s priority of investigating bid-rigging cases with the support of the Office of the Ombudsman and the Commission on Audit,” he said, even as he declined to provide details.
”Unfortunately because of the ongoing investigation, we could not offer any details at this point like who the parties are,” he added.
”But this has to do with the massive public rigging. That’s governed by our law and the commission can impose penalties or fines and consult the Department of Justice to the extent that this is a criminal act.”
Describing the project as a “major” one, Orlando P. Polinar, director of PCC’s Competition Enforcement Office, told reporters: “We’ll give you more details the moment we are ready to conclude the investigation, whether we file a complaint or terminate it all together”. — Denise A. Valdez