THE Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) will check if there are anti-competitive practices in the transportation sector, including the controversial transport network companies (TNCs) like Grab and Uber, said an official.
In an interview, PCC Executive Director Gwen Grecia-de Vera said the commission hopes to conclude a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), where PCC could raise concerns and provide recommendations that are related to competition in the public transportation sector.
“In the transport sector, what PCC will probably do is conduct a study. We will look into the transportation sector from a competition perspective,” said De Vera.
PCC is working on an issue paper on the transportation and logistics sector that focuses on ferrying passengers and goods, which will help PCC determine the potential anti-competitive concerns.
For TNCs, de Vera said PCC will not interfere with the issue on licenses because it is part of LTFRB’s regulations. However, it will communicate with LTFRB once the commission sees anti-competitive conduct in this emerging industry.
“We understand that the safety of the riding public is central to the mandate of the LTFRB, thus the current situation is viewed largely as an issue of licenses and regulation of franchises for the TNCs. We do not interfere with their mandate as sector regulator. But as PCC has the mandate to serve as an advisory body to other government agencies, we will utilize this opportunity to inject competition lens into the discussion,” PCC said in a statement.
As an antitrust body, PCC has publicly announced its probe on power, cement, and healthcare. De Vera said full administrative investigation is ongoing for these sectors.
The official added that the manufacturing and agriculture sector, which are part of the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, are also among PCC’s priority sectors.
PCC, created under Republic Act 10667 or the Philippine Competition Act, is mandated to implement the national competition policy by regulating anti-competitive behavior and protecting the well-being and efficiency of competition markets for the benefit of consumers and businesses. It is currently chaired by former socioeconomic planning secretary Arsenio Balisacan.
Anti-competitive arrangements or agreements involve practices or contracts that were previously seen as mere business strategies but have detrimental effects on the market.
Companies or business owners may incur criminal and administrative liabilities that may reach up to P100 million for the first offense, and up to P250 million for second offense, or imprisonment of up to seven years for responsible officers and directors of the entity.
To date, de Vera said there have been 100 out of 126 merger and acquisition applications deemed approved by the PCC, amounting to a transactional value of P1.99 trillion.
The two-year transitory period of the PCC lapsed on Aug. 8, giving the commission, established in 2015, the full authority to implement its mandate of imposing stricter measures against anti-competitive businesses.