Philippine and Australian anti-trust heads pose for a photo following a dialogue held in Australia from March 21-22. (from left) From left to right: Commissioner Menardo Guevarra, Commissioner Stella Quimbo, Atty. Russell Miller, Chair Arsenio M. Balisacan, Atty. Michael Brennan, Consul General Nina Cainglet, and Commissioner Johannes Bernabe. Photo courtesy of the PCC.
In order institute a strong anti-trust regime, the newly created Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), has tapped the expertise and experience of Australia as it draws nearer to coming into force.
PCC Chair Arsenio Balisacan and commissioners of the new regulatory body flew to Australia for dialogues with top officials of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and other experts that ran from March 21-22.
The aim was to gain insights into international best practices as it works on the implementation of its own regulations
“The Philippine Competition Act or RA 10667, which became law last year after the bill languished for 24 years in Congress, was a much awaited piece of legislation expected to accelerate investments and job creation in the Philippines through regulations that combat anti-competition practices,” Balisacan said in a statement.
He added that “with this backdrop, PCC is eager to get inputs from the best in the world to help effectively deliver on its mandate.”
Australia is a recognized global leader in competition law. In 2014, the ACCC won 100% of the 28 consumer related protection cases it brought to Australian Federal court.
Balisacan was joined by PCC commissioners Johannes Bernabe, Menardo Guevarra, and Stella Quimbo. They visited ACCC’s offices in Sydney and Canberra to meet with ACCC Chair Rod Sims, Commissioner Mick Keogh, and other ACCC officials.
Balisacan and his colleagues also met with other Australian anti-trust experts, including Allan Fels, the first chair of the ACCC; and Russell Miller, one of Australia’s leading competition lawyers and author of the leading reference on competition and consumer protection law.
Implementing competition regulations
The PCC was constituted on February 1, following the passage of the Philippine Competition Act in June last year, and is mandated to implement provisions of the law.
The landmark law prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position, and anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions and the PCC has the primary and original jurisdiction on all competition related issues. (READ: What consumers need to know about the Competition Act)
It is one of the Philippines’ efforts to institutionalize sound economic policies and has been cited by experts as a means to drive up foreign investment in the country.
Balisacan, the former socioeconomic planning secretary was appointed as the commission’s first chairman with a tenure to last 7 years.
The PCC is currently drafting of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Philippine Competition Act.
Balisacan had previously said that it hopes to finalize and release the IRRs before the new administration takes over on June 30.
While the IRRs have not been published yet, various regulatory bodies have been taking the impending coming into force into account.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, for one, noted that it was a factor in its rejection of the proposed merger of the Philippine stock exchange and bond market last week.
“A favorable recommendation by a government agency of a merger or acquisition would be taken as a sign that the merger does not violate the recently the Competition Act,” the SEC said.
The study visit of the PCC officials to Australia was organized and supported by the Australian Embassy, in partnership with Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), as part of the year-long celebration of the 70 years of friendship between the Philippine and Australian governments.