There has been much noise from our lawmakers on the need for a tougher anti-trust law in the Philippines. Rep. Eduardo Gullas, of Cebu, has been very vocal about pushing for an anti-trust law that would protect both consumers and businesses from wrongful and unfair competition in commerce. Senator Sergio Osmena III and Senator Juan Ponce Enrile have drafted bills for a stronger anti-trust policy and have been holding public forums for greater understanding of our current anti-trust issues. This is no doubt in response to President Noy Noy Aquino’s call for Congress to pass a new anti-trust law in his first State of the Nation Address last July 2010.
It is high time too. In truth, there is no comprehensive anti-trust policy and regulation in the country – at all. While there have been much reforms by way of liberalization, deregularizaton, and privatization to encourage free trade and open markets, anti-trust regulation in the Philippines is unfortunately completely behind compared to our foreign counterparts.
Rep. Gullas has stated that he favors new legislation patterned after the tough anti-trust laws of the United States. Actually, anti-trust laws in European countries such as Switzerland crack down even more than U.S. courts with respect to certain practices. Take the concept of vertical price-fixing, also known as vertical price restraints, which is not unfamiliar in Philippine economy.
The U.S., Switzerland and the Philippines adhere to the Rule of Reason doctrine in determining whether a company is liable for vertical price-fixing. However, the U.S. takes on a more liberal approach whereas Switzerland has more stringent standards and even has a Competition Commission which determines whether there is vertical price restraint involved. In the Philippines, there are no such determinants, and hardly if any case law providing for guidelines on how to apply the Rule of Reason.