Wednesday, May 27, 2015

DOJ expresses ‘grave concern’ on House version of anti-trust bill | | Philippine News

See - DOJ expresses ‘grave concern’ on House version of anti-trust bill | | Philippine News

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The justice department has expressed “grave concern” on the House version of the anti-trust bill, which seeks to rein in monopolistic practices in the business sector.
In a letter to House Speaker Feliciano R. Belmonte Jr. last April 28, Justice Secretary Leila M. de Lima said the present House version of the anti-trust bill may fail its stated objectives of protecting small businesses from being disadvantaged by bigger companies.
“After a diligent comparative review rooted in global best practices and informed by the enforcement experience by the Department, we sincerely believe that the present House Bill is designed to fail in its stated objectives,” De Lima said in her letter.
“[It] will instead crystallize the existing monopolistic and oligopolistic practices in the economy today,” she added.
Earlier, the House of Representatives approved on second reading its version of the anti-trust bill, which was subsequently passed on third and final reading last week.
The anti-trust bill, now approved by both House and Senate, aims to check monopolistic practices in the business sector.
De Lima likewise took to task the House leadership for drastically altering the Malacañang version it sent to the Lower House, pursuant to a directive of President Aquino under Executive Order (EO) 45, which also created the Office of Competition (OFC).
She said changes to the Malacañang draft was “unilaterally made without the requisite study and consultations”, thus undermining “the current competition regime under the OFC.”
“The bill is also littered with terms and concepts that are not consistent with law and jurisprudence or not in accord with the tenets of competition policy and law,” she stressed.
Minority congressmen led by Representative Jonathan de La Cruz earlier said the “good faith” provision in the proposed Fair Competition Act of 2015 provides an “escape clause” for big companies should they abuse their dominant position.
Both the House and the Senate versions provide that individuals and companies may resort to undercutting their competition as long as it was done “in good faith.
The House version also contains a new section not found in the Senate version called “Forbearance,” which allows any individual or company to apply for suspension of the application of the law to dodge, among others, possible prosecution.
The Competition Commission, acting as the regulator, was also given expanded powers under the House version exposing its members to corruption and bribery.
De la Cruz has stressed that the good faith provision “has no place in an anti-competition act, just like what we are discussing right now.”
In the aftermath of the bill hurdling third and final reading, De La Cruz further said: “By ignoring the clear need to level the playing field and open up competition and fair play, the House has thrown away the opportunity to establish a culture of excellence innovation and entrepreneurship.”
He also said: “We are back to the corrosive monopolistic tendencies abetted by undue reliance on good faith.
Bicameral conference members from both the Lower House and the Senate are expected to sit down this week to reconcile the conflicting provisions of the two versions
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