The importance of an Anti-Trust Law

Feliciano Belmonte, Jr.

Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. (Photo credit: www.emb.gov.ph)

How big is a crime if the penalty to be imposed is between P10 million and P50 million and/or imprisonment of not more than 10 years to violators and P250 million to P750 million for companies who are found guilty?

With that huge amounts and stiff punishments involved, it’s easy to say that the offence is quite an enormous wrongdoing as well.  This is just one of the components included in the anti-trust measures – House Bill 1333 and HB 388 – filed by Quezon City Rep. Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez who are both seeking to penalize monopolies and those who engage in unfair competition.

Indicated in Belmonte’s measure passed last year was “the abuse of market-dominant positions and the excessive concentration of economic power by regulating improper concerted acts and unfair business practices.”

Anti Competitive Conduct, including price fixing and bid rigging; Abuse of Dominant Position or engaging in unfair methods of competition; and Anti Competitive Mergers or tie-ups that would “substantially lessen competition or tend to create monopoly” were also included as prohibited under the proposed measures.

Echoing the call for an anti-trust law is a Philippine tobacco manufacturer owned by the Wongchuking family. Mighty Corp Inc legal counsel Atty. Miguelito V. Ocampo reiterated the need for an anti-trust law to protect local producers not only against price monopoly but other unfair practices of powerful multinational corporations.

He also said that Bulacan-based cigarette maker Mighty Corp is now under siege by corporate multinationals trying to control the country’s multibillion-peso tobacco industry but vowed to faced all allegations hurled to them by giant and powerful competitors within the law.

Ocampo stressed, “We assure our loyal customers, bankers, retailers, wholesalers and employees that we will not remain passive against the subterfuge and other malicious and damaging trickeries employed by our competitors in trying to destroy our business”

He added that reports of complaints of giant tobacco firm Philip Morris and its partner Fortune Tobacco Corporation (PMFTC) that Migthy Corp hugely eaten its market by selling one-peso-per stick cigarettes through illegal withdrawals and misdeclaration of imported raw materials, were baseless.

Ocampo asked, “How could this be when the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Internal Revenue tightly and closely monitor our shipments, manufacturing, withdrawals and marketing?”

As this issue continues to boil and gain steam, it’s really high time to push the anti-trust bill.

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