By Jelly F. Musico
MANILA, July 21 (PNA) – President Benigno S. Aquino III signed into law on Tuesday two important bills that would continue to push the country’s progress and inclusive growth.
During the signing ceremonies in Malacanang, President Aquino approved the landmark Philippine Competition Act, giving the country its own law that will level the playing field for all businesses by penalizing anti-competitive agreements and abuses of dominant players.
The President also signed into law the Foreign Ships Co-Loading Act, which would allow foreign ships carrying imported cargoes and cargoes to be exported out of the country to dock in multiple ports.
The Philippine Competition Act is considered the longest-running measure in Congress, taking 25 years before hurdling the legislative mill.
Under the law, a Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) will be established with the Chief Executive appointing a chairperson, four commissioners and an executive director.
As an independent quasi-judicial body, the PCC will look into anti-competitive behaviors, abuses in dominant positions, and anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions.
The PCC can impose administrative penalties of a maximum fine of PhP100 million on the first offense and PhP250 million for the second offense for anti-competitive agreements and abuses of dominant position.
Moreover, courts can impose criminal penalties of imprisonment from two to seven years and a maximum penalty of PhP250 million for anti-competitive agreements done between and among competitors. The imprisonment will be imposed on responsible officers and directors of the entity.
On the other hand, the Foreign Ships Co-Loading Act will reduce logistics costs for producers, create a more efficient import and export system, and lead to lower prices for consumers.
The law will also help in decongesting the major ports in the country. (PNA)