PCC teams up with Ombudsman
The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has teamed up with the Office of the Ombudsman in a bold new campaign to weed out bid-rigging, price fixing and cartels in government procurements and projects.
“A unified front in leveling the playing field, both in government and commercial transactions, will ultimately benefit consumers and the general public,” PCC Chair Arsenio Balisacan said.
While the Ombudsman has jurisdiction over corruption cases involving high-level government officials, PCC is mandated to prohibit anti-competitive conduct and impose administrative penalties on violators.
“The PCC is like an ‘ombudsman of the market.’ We go after cartels, bid manipulators, price fixers, etc.—cases that may also potentially involve criminal offenses such as bribery, graft and corruption, over which the (Ombudsman) has jurisdiction,” PCC Commissioner El Cid Butuyan said.
Butuyan said the partnership between the PCC and the Ombudsman could boost the detection, investigation and prosecution of the anti-competitive conducts.
“There are significant synergies and complementarity of the two agencies in pursuing a shared mandate to detect and penalize misconduct. We expect this partnership between the OMB and the PCC to provide a big boost in promoting integrity both in the public and corporate sectors,” Butuyan added.
Before joining the newly created PCC, the Harvard-educated Butuyan was based in Washington D.C. working as counsel in the legal department of the World Bank where he was responsible for the investigation and prosecution of corruption, collusion and fraud in World Bank-funded projects.
The collaboration between PCC and OMB is part of the former’s enforcement of the landmark Philippine Competition Act through partnerships, parallel efforts, joint task forces and coordinated actions with partner agencies, both locally and abroad.
Some channels where anti-corruption efforts converge with antitrust enforcement include bid rigging cases punishable under Section 14 of the Philippine Competition Act. The PCC is mandated to look into cases where market leaders bag large-scale transactions while government officials receive payoffs by providing cover for anticompetitive conduct.
Bid-rigging as an anti-competitive conduct carries penalties ranging from P100 million to P250 million, as well as criminal penalties of imprisonment from two to seven years and a fine ranging from P50 million to P250 million.
“On a personal level, I am very pleased that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has demonstrated strong commitment for this mutual initiative,” Butuyan added.
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