THE Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) is suspending the acceptance and evaluation of merger notifications with its offices minimally staffed while Metro Manila is under enhanced community quarantine.

The PCC, in a resolution Monday, said it will suspend acceptance of new notification forms and letters of non-coverage, as well as the evaluation of the sufficiency of the notification forms and letters of non-coverage that have already been submitted to the commission.

The 30-day deadline to submit merger notifications will also be frozen, with notifying parties given the remaining balance of the notification period when regular operations resume.

Companies have 30 days to submit merger notifications to the PCC after signing definitive agreements. They face fines of up to P2 million if they fail to do so.

PCC merger processes were declared suspended between March 16 to April 14, 2020, or until the community quarantine is lifted.

“Regular operations of the PCC will resume as soon as the NCR-wide quarantine has been lifted,” the PCC said in the statement.

The commission will continue to attend to pre-notification consultations and other inquiries through e-mail or conference calls.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday ordered a community quarantine halting land, domestic, and sea travel to and from Metro Manila from March 15 to April 14. Workers may enter and exit Metro Manila by showing their company ID at checkpoints. The quarantine has since been “enhanced” with transport suspended and most people ordered to stay indoors.

The PCC said that numerous entities had expressed concerns about the timely submission of their notification forms for merger transactions whose 30-day notification period will expire during the community quarantine period.

The commission said that it adopted alternative work arrangements and maintains only minimal staffing at its offices.

“The health and safety of PCC employees, transacting parties, resource persons and other stakeholders are of the utmost concern to the Commission during this period of public health emergency,” PCC said.

Meanwhile, the National Privacy Commission (NPC) in an advisory Thursday said previously scheduled discovery conferences, summary hearings, and mediation proceedings are canceled.

“It is emphasized that only the hearings are suspended and that all cases pending before the NPC are neither terminated dismissed,” NPC said.

“Notice for the resetting of both proceedings shall be sent to the parties through mail and/or e-mail.”

The NPC is also encouraging the public to send inquiries, breach notifications, complaints, and other forms of correspondence by phone, e-mail, or to the NPC’s social media accounts.

The Civil Service Commission (CSC) on Monday announced that heads of agencies have the discretion to develop alternative work arrangements for the duration of the community quarantine.

CSC said the alternative work arrangements will ensure delivery of public services while observing social distancing and other preventive measures. — Jenina P. Ibañez