THE Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has raised fines for violations of competition rules like cartel behavior in pricing and unauthorized mergers by 10%.

Firms found to be participating in cartels, abuse of market dominance, and unauthorized mergers can now be fined up to P110 million, while those that refuse to follow the commission’s rulings or are late in submitting merger notifications can be fined up to P2.2 million.

Submission of wrong or misleading information to the commission can lead to fines of up to P1.1 million, the commission said in a statement Monday.

Companies subject to the Philippine Competition Act (PCA) or Republic Act No. 10667 are not allowed to use their dominance or significant market power to deter competition or employ secret agreements to fix prices.

Under the law, PCC may adjust its penalties for inflation every five years.

PCC Chairman Arsenio S. Balisacan said that this adjustment ensures that the law can sufficiently deter firms from engaging in anti-competitive behavior.

“Along with effective detection and prosecution of infringements, increasing PCC’s fines is meant to deter cartelistic and abusive business practices that take advantage of consumers amid the pandemic,” he said.

While the range of fines has been adjusted, the commission said that companies will ultimately be penalized based on “the gravity and duration of the infringement, profits derived from the illegal conduct, and consumer harm.” 

The new fines will take effect on Feb. 9 and will apply to violations committed after that date.

The PCC has imposed P162.5 million in fines since 2016. — Jenina P. Ibañez