Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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PH competition body to tap independent group to study telcos’ impact

The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) may soon find out the impact of the controversial telco deal that ate up what could have been the country’s third telco player, following an independent market study to be conducted this year.

In a press briefing on Wednesday, PCC Commissioners said they would tap an independent body to conduct the market study in the telecommunications industry, along with other similar studies in industries that also impact consumer welfare.

The market study would offer a broad look into the entire value chain, including the aftermath of the P69 billion deal made by PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom, Inc. of San Miguel Corp.’s telco assets in 2016.

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The competition watchdog could not review the deal per se, following the decision of the Court of Appeals that the transaction was deemed approved, thus barring any scrutiny from PCC. In December last year, PCC asked the Supreme Court to review the lower court’s decision, noting that the latter made a mistake.

“This market study is a separate exercise, distinct from the review [of the transaction]. It would be looking at the entire telecommunications industry,” said Commissioner Johannes Benjamin Bernabe.

Officials said this would cover voice telephony, fixed broadband, delivery of internet services, mobile internet transactions, and spectrum management, among others.

“Now, in terms of looking at the effect of the consolidation of telco assets in the hands of PLDT and Globe, in a way, I think without going too much into the review, it would be difficult to avoid looking at the consequences of the telecoms industry,” he said.

This comes as the government is looking for a possible third player that could compete with the powerful duopoly. The study would help PCC understand, among other things, if there are indeed enough resources available for future telco players.

Once the market study is completed, it could prompt PCC to open an investigative case of the industry. PCC could also recommend policies to other government agencies in addressing any possible competition concern.

The look into the telco industry is just one among many of such studies.

Commissioner Stella Alabastro Quimbo said they would subcontract independent studies for eight other sectors, namely: rice, meat and poultry, pharmaceuticals, land transportation, air transportation, agricultural credit, digital commerce, and retail.

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“If we had enough plantilla positions, we’d do it ourselves but there’s so much on our plate right now. The nine sectors I mentioned earlier are going to be subcontracted,” she said.

Independent studies, some of which might be conducted by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), are being pursued to avoid any accusations of partiality, Bernabe said.

Moreover, on top of competent qualifications, he said the selection process would exclude “those with biases,” he added.

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TAGS: Globe, market study, Philippine Competition Commission, PLDT, San Miguel Corporation, telcos
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