PCC's 2017 priorities: Int'l shipping, cement, power, agriculture

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) is ready to show some muscle not just in the telecommunications sector, as it puts focus on international shipping, cement, power, and agriculture next year.

PCC Chairman Arsenio Balisacan said on the sidelines of National Competition Day in Pasig City on Monday, December 5, that his office will place these 4 sectors in its priority list for review and investigation in 2017.

This is amid the PCC's ongoing legal battle with the two telecommunications giants, PLDT Incorporated and Globe Telecom Incorporated, over the P69.1-billion deal to buy out San Miguel Corporation's telecom assets. (READ: PCC: Make policy changes to open telco, energy markets)

"There were reports of scarcity of resources in these cases. International shipping, cement, power, and agriculture were endorsed for review and investigation. These aren't just from nowhere," Balisacan told reporters.

In the case of the cement industry, the PCC chairman said a former undersecretary of the Department of Trade and Industry requested a probe into possible anti-competitive measures.

According to Balisacan, the complainant said there could be possible abuse of dominant position by some cement players.

"In the case of power, it was a request coming from the Department of Energy that we look into possible collusion in light of yellow and red alerts," Balisacan said.

Balisacan said the PCC is working with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to study bilateral agreements between energy companies.

For international shipping, Balisacan said an unnamed organization asked for possible exclusion from a review, which "led to our decision to take a closer look into it."

For the agriculture sector, Balisacan said a certain party requested for a PCC review, "especially with the National Food Authority as the Philippines' main importer of rice."

Sector regulators, like the ERC and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), have signed a memorandum of understanding with the PCC to work together on promoting fair market competition in the country.

"As a newly-organized competition authority, we recognize that we, at the PCC, cannot do everything alone. We greatly need the cooperation of various stakeholders from both the public and private sphere," Balisacan said. – Rappler.com