Philippines strengthens crackdown on consumer fraud

Lian Buan
The Department of Justice boosts witness protection for whistleblowers against businesses that violate the Philippine Competition Act

Construction of a residential condominium in Quezon City on August 6, 2018. Photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is strengthening its crackdown on violators of the Competition Act with new policy adjustments coming from both the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Supreme Court.

The DOJ is crafting new rules for what it calls its “leniency program” that will give protection to whistleblowers of businesses engaged in anti-competitive practices.

The High Court, meanwhile, has designated special courts that will focus on trying cases involving Republic Act No. 10667 or the Philippine Competition Act.

RA 10667 ensures markets remain competitive, so that consumers can enjoy lower prices.

The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) is a quasi-judicial body tasked to implement the law. It recently made headlines for imposing penalties on ride-sharing app Grab Philippines. 

New programs

Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete said the new rules to institute the leniency program will be finalized in late January.

“The leniency program allows for a respondent, someone who participated in a criminal act, to be exculpated from criminal prosecution if he or she will testify,” Perete said.

He added, “We have to take into consideration the reality that those who would enter into an anti-competitive agreement would probably have a lot of resources so you want an incentive for witnesses to testify, and protection for them as well.”

In a notice of resolution dated December 10, 2019, but released only on Friday, January 3, the Supreme Court has designated as competition courts the previous special commercial courts in Quezon City, Manila, Makati, Pasig, Cebu City, Iloillo City, Davao City, and Cagayan De Oro City.

These assignments are additions to new rules made by the High Court in September 2019, where it laid down procedures for application, issuance, and implementation of inspection orders for administrative investigations by the PCC.

The newly-designated competition courts took effect January 1. – Rappler.com

 

 

 

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.