"THE NEW Office for Competition established by recently issued Executive Order (EO) No. 45 is expected to take shape next week when the Department of Justice holds a meeting among its officials to iron out details of its mandate and its organization, the head of the department told reporters on Tuesday.
"Early next week, I will convene a meeting with undersecretaries, assistant secretaries and key officials of the department to come up with clear guidelines and a blueprint for the Competition Office, the unit in the Department of Justice which will handle competition and antitrust cases," Justice Secretary Leila M. de Lima said.
President Benigno S. C. Aquino III last June 9 signed EO 45, which designated the Department of Justice (DoJ) as the Competition Authority and established the Office for Competition under it.
As Competition Authority, the DoJ is tasked to investigate violations of competition laws and prosecute violators; "supervise competition in markets" by enforcing such laws; as well as prepare, publish and disseminate studies and reports on competition to inform and guide industry and consumers.
Among others it will target monopolies, cartels and other "combinations in restraint of trade."
EO 45 also formed an Office for Competition under the Office of the Secretary of Justice as the Competition Authority’s arm to carry out its functions.
The same order said the Justice secretary will designate the head of the office, which will be manned by legal and technical experts, as well as "consultants and resource persons."
"It should be an official from the DoJ who should head that [office]," Ms. de Lima said.
"Most of the personnel who will work in it are our state counsels and lawyers," she added, noting that the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel could be tapped to assist the new body.
"Under the executive order, we can engage the services of technical consultants and advisers in the fulfillment of the mandate. We will discuss who we can appoint as consultants," Ms. de Lima said.
She noted that some officials in the department have already told her of their willingness to work for new office.
Last week, Ms. de Lima said the new office was designed to ensure "economic justice for all."
"It is the consumer that would suffer if we have monopolistic actions...in any industry," the Justice chief had said. -- NRM"