BIZ BUZZ: Too many lawyers at PCC? | Inquirer Business

BIZ BUZZ: Too many lawyers at PCC?

/ 02:06 AM February 06, 2023

Folks at the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) are now waiting for the final commissioner spot to be filled up, with the last place likely—or perhaps hopefully? —to be given to someone who is well-versed in economics.

This is according to a well-placed source at the competition commission who told the Inquirer that the last commissioner’s slot, which an appointee will occupy for seven years, is expected to be given to an economist.


The source said that they had been rooting for someone from inside, citing the former Director of the PCC Mergers and Acquisitions Office, Krystal Uy.

“Sadly, she has been pirated by the [National Economic and Development Authority (Neda)]. She is now an undersecretary there,” the source said.


“There are a few really good economists, and even fewer are lawyers who have expertise in competition economics,” the source added.

Economists who were given seats in the commission in the past include the likes of Neda secretary Arsenio Balisacan and Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo, who is an economics professor.

The PCC is now headed by former Commission on Audit chair Michael Aguinaldo, a lawyer.

The three commissioners today at the competition body are Marah Victoria Querol, a lawyer formerly with the Office of the President; Michael Peloton, a lawyer who came from the Insurance Commission; and intellectual property rights expert Lolibeth Ramit-Medrano, also a lawyer.

—Alden M. Monzon

Bias for electric cars?

While the motoring industry is cheering Executive Order No. 12 issued by President Marcos last month, which imposed a tariff rate of zero for electric vehicle imports for, at least, the next five years, a segment of the industry is scratching its head in disbelief.

We’re talking about those who were banking on Malacañang’s open-minded approach to electric vehicles to include the two-wheeled variety which, as one can observe on many streets around the country, is clearly a growing trend among Filipino motorists.

Some two-wheeled industry stakeholders reached out to Biz Buzz to express puzzlement at the noninclusion of electric scooters and motorcyles on the list of vehicles that will be exempt from import duties under Mr. Marcos’ new order.


“Why exempt only four-wheeled vehicles?” one player said. “Don’t we want to encourage more affordable mobility options for Filipinos? Why are we favoring electric cars over electric motorcycles or scooters?”

Hopefully, it’s not too late to amend this order and, hopefully, the President has a open mind. But does he? Or more importantly, do his officials have open minds about this? Abangan!

—Daxim L. Lucas

Squidpay squabble

Now that the central bank has revoked the license and registration of payments system operator Squidpay Technology Inc., some of its key officials are hitting back against Premiere Horizon Alliance Corp. (PHA), their former partner.

PHA had, of course, sued Squidpay founder Marvin dela Cruz and one of their directors Augusto “Tito” Serafica Jr. last year for allegedly misappropriating company funds.

But the Squidpay camp claims that “the irresponsible actions by the PHA management and certain members of the executive committee were the key reasons why the two independent directors, and a distinguished nonexecutive director (based in the US) tendered their resignation from PHA.”

In a statement sent to Biz Buzz, the Squidpay guys accused certain board directors and former senior management of the PHA subsidiaries as having “prioritized their self-interest” and remaining uncooperative.”

“The absence of a coherent business strategy led to a huge erosion of shareholder value and continuing losses in 2022,” said the Squidpay side of this increasingly ugly mess.

“Certain board members and former senior management refused to comply with the overall direction toward cost conservation,” they explained. “They continued to pursue their own financial gains showing zero concern for the company’s financial health.”

“To date, no independent directors have been elected,” the Squidpay guys said. “In the interest of the safeguarding the fragmented majority shareholders’ concern about board representation, maybe Securities and Exchange Commission and the Philippine Stock Exchange should closely monitor the nomination and selection of independent directors, before the much delayed PHA 2022 shareholders meeting.”

So who’s telling the truth? Time will tell.

—Daxim L. Lucas INQ

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