The Department of Justice - Office for Competition (DOJ-OFC) recently issued its Year 1 Report and Strategic Plan of Action outlining the OFC's accomplishments in the first twelve (12) months of operations following the issuance of Executive Order No. 45 "Designating the Department of Justice as the Competition Authority" on 9 June 2011.
Under E.O. No. 45, the OFC was created in the DOJ to carry out its duties and responsibilities as the country's first competition authority. Its major functions include the (1) investigation of all cases involving violations of competition laws, (2) enforcement of competition policies and laws to protect consumers, (3) supervision of competition in markets by ensuring that prohibitions and requirements of competition laws are adhered to.
In the early stages of operationalization, the OFC implemented strategic actions along advocacy, capacity building and enforcement. Among the milestones included in the report are as follows:
- Development of OFC vision and mission statement,
- Creation of Working Groups chaired by OFC and co-chaired by sector regulators1,
- Preparation of guidelines on OFC-sector regulators cooperation, complaints intake and case handling, legal defense,
- Capacity building on basic CPL, investigative techniques and competition assessment with key stakeholders,
- Collaborative efforts with national and international partners, including the ASEAN Experts Group on Competition (AEGC) of which the Philippines through OFC is currently the Vice-Chair and next year's Chair, and
- Advocacy through the conduct of fora, preparation of action plan, and observance of "National Competition Day" on December 5.
Along enforcement, the OFC assessed fifteen (15) complaints on alleged violation of Article 186 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, which punishes acts constitutive of monopolies and combinations in restraint of trade. Of this, three (3) were disposed of and the remaining twelve (12) are ongoing assessment. The implementing rules and
regulations (IRR) of E.O. No. 45 are now being developed and targeted for completion by December 2012.
"In the international community, the OFC is the youngest competition authority. With the support of our partners, particularly sector regulators and development partners, we are addressing the challenges of setting up its structure and establishing an operational framework suitable to the country's legal and economic landscape," said
Secretary Leila M . De Lima.
"Just recently, the DOJ through OFC was conferred regular membership in the International Competition Network (ICN), the only international body devoted exclusively to competition law enforcement for the benefit of consumers and businesses," said Assistant Secretary Geronimo L. Sy, head of the OFC.
The OFC continues to be a priority in the Good Governance and Anti-Corruption (GGAC) Cluster Plan for the project "Advancing Economic Justice for All ."
1 The Working Groups and respective co-chairs are as follows: (1) Advocacy and Partnerships - Tariff Commission, (2) Business and Economics - Securities and Exchange Commission, (3) Consumer Protection and Welfare - Department of Trade and Industry, (4) Enforcement and Legal - Bureau of Internal Revenue, and (5) Policy and Planning - Philippine Institute for Development Studies.