Quisumbing Torres (QT) Senior Associate Alain Charles Veloso gave a presentation on key issues in competition law during the recent Asian Legal Business (ALB) Competition Forum held last 15 November at the Dusit Thani, Manila. Over 150 in-house counsels and business decision-makers participated in the event. Alain Charles Veloso, Senior Associate, Quisumbing Torres discussed Current Issues Arising From The Implementing Rules And Regulation. "Essentially, competition is a basic mechanism in a free and fair market. There is an incentive for the businesses to be as efficient as possible," Charles pointed out. Panel discussion
Charles talked about key issues and trends in the areas of anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominance, and merger control. He also discussed concepts that are not expressly provided under the implementing rules and regulations of the Philippine Competition Act (PCA), the highlights of which include the definition of concerted action, issues in information exchange and price signaling, pro-competitive analysis of certain horizontal agreements, justifications for vertical restraints, how to define the relevant market, common examples of abusive conduct, and gun-jumping.
Charles showcased the QT Competition Focus group's in-depth commercial understanding of clients' business activities and experience in dealing with competition-related issues. Among the team's services is the provision of advice and assistance in obtaining merger clearance for Philippine transactions or the Philippine aspect of global transactions. During his session, Charles presented the state of play of global merger control, demonstrating how most of the world's important jurisdictions have mandatory merger control provisions. He also cited common risk areas of in M&A transactions, such as, information exchange where sensitive data shared during M&A due diligence may be used to restrict competition, and gun-jumping.
Charles ended his presentation by highlighting risk areas for businesses in the Philippines, in light of the end of the grace period under the PCA, the current capacity building efforts of the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), and the formulation of guidelines on leniency program, dawn raids, and other enforcement mechanisms under the PCA, which are all expected to come out in 2017. He mentioned that in light of the risks, businesses should now consider conducting an internal assessment of their compliance issues, conduct training and capacity building on antitrust compliance internally, and formulate standards, policies, and guidelines to address risk areas. Charles' presentation was well-received by the audience. QT also received several inquiries after the event.
The PCA and the PCC
The PCA was signed into law by Former Philippine President Benigno Aquino on 21 July 2015. The Competition Law represents the country's long-awaited comprehensive legal framework on antitrust and contains prohibitions on anti-competitive agreements, abuse of a dominant position, as well as anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions.
In 3 June 2016, the Philippine Competition Commission ("Commission") issued the implementing rules and regulations ("IRR") of the PCA. The issuance of the IRR marks another significant development in the country's first comprehensive antitrust regime (including merger control), and signals a move towards conformity with other nations in their approach and regulation of competition and transactions involving the Philippine market. In his video-recorded keynote address during the ALB Competition Forum on The Future of Competition in the Philippines - Opportunities and Challenges PCC Chairman Arsenio Balisacan shared, "The Philippines' reform story is just only unfolding, and, we, at the commission, cannot do everything alone. We require the collaborative efforts of policy-makers, advocates and academics, not only in the Philippines but also colleagues and friends from abroad."