DOJ, as Competition Authority, adopts Guidelines

21 February 2013

The Department of Justice (DOJ) issued Department Circular No. 011 or the Guidelines Governing the Implementation of Executive Order (E.O.) No. 45, series of 2011.

E.O. No. 45 designated the DOJ as the Competition Authority and also created, within DOJ, the Office for Competition (OFC).

The Guidelines seek to implement the provision in the Philippine Constitution which calls for the prohibition and regulation of monopolies when the public interest so requires. As the Competition Authority, the DOJ, through its Ofice for Competition, shall investigate and prosecute cases involving monopolization, cartels and combinations in restraint of trade; enforce competition policies and laws to protect consumers; supervise competition in markets; and, monitor and implement measures to promote transparency and accountability in markets.

The OFC has the authority to commence an investigation (i.e., a fact-finding examination, study or inquiry) upon complaint under oath  from any person or may initiate an investigation on its own. However, all cases shall be subject to an initial assessment phase to determine the  necessity of further investigation. 

Under these Guidelines, the OFC, in the conduct of the  investigation, will release a written "request for information" addressed  to the respondent who shall have ten (10) calendar days to comply. The OFC can thereafter ask the complainant to  submit additional documents.

Filing of administrative, civil or criminal cases with the appropriate bodies may be recommended in the OFC report. If so recommended, criminal complaints shall be   filed with the National Prosecution Service (NPS) of DOJ for preliminary investigation. 

"As Competition Authority, and working through its Office for Competition, the   Department of Justice will help promote competition,  level the playing field, and be an instrument in the delivery of economic  justice for all," said Justice Secretary Leila M. de  Lima. 

According to the Guidelines, the DOJ and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will also implement a mechanism for cooperation to  investigate anti-competitive conduct to promote and protect economic interest of consumers. 

The Guidelines will take effect on March 1, 2013. The Philippines, through the OFC, headed by Assistant Secretary Geronimo L. Sy, will assume the Chairmanship of the ASEAN Experts Group on Competition (AEGC) in March 2013.

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