New antitrust body under proposed constitution 'good for competition'

MANILA, Philippines – The chief of the country's antitrust body on Friday, July 20, backed the creation of a Federal Competition Commission under the Consultative Committee's proposed constitution.

Philippine Competition Commission Chairman Arsenio Balisacan said in a news briefing on Friday that under the Con-Com's proposed draft constitution, the PCC would be replaced with a constitutional body with "more teeth" in curbing unfair trade schemes.

"The proposal includes making the [PCC] into a Federal Competition Commission and make it a constitutional body to give it more teeth and independence, and [the] power to address highly anti-competitive practices," he said.

"This would be very good for competition, obviously," Balisacan added.

The Consultative Committee formally turned over its proposed draft constitution to President Rodrigo Duterte on July 9. About a week later, the Con-Com Con-Com released the final version of the draft constitution which incorporates the changes Duterte had asked for during his meeting with the committee.

Under the final version of the proposed new charter, a Federal Competition Commission will replace the PCC. It will be an independent constitutional commission, giving the office more power than a mere executive office. (DOCUMENT: Final version of Consultative Committee draft constitution)

The Federal Competition Commission is one of 6 constitutional commissions created under the Con-Com's proposed constitution. It is mandated to probe and decide on cases of violation of competition laws and review proposed mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, and other business combinations that could lessen competition.

However, economists have voiced concerns about the shift, saying this may lead to hyperinflation. Majority of Filipinos reject the shift to federalism at this time, based on surveys of Pulse Asia Research, Incorporated and the Social Weather Stations. –

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.