MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima expressed optimism on Malacanang's latest issuance designating the Department of Justice (DOJ) as the competition authority in investigating and prosecuting violations of trade competition laws, and in crafting legislation to deal with monopolies.
President Aquino issued last June 9 Executive Order No. 45, which also directed the creation of an Office for Competition under the Office of the Secretary of Justice.
"We are all for fair competition. In the final analysis, it's always the customers to suffer if we have monopolistic actions on the part of key players in industries," de Lima said.
De Lima was asked by President Aquino as early as last year to draft an executive order for the purpose.
She claimed she submitted her draft to the President a few months after assuming her post at the DOJ, denying the issuance was a mere offshoot of Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) Co.'s planned acquisition of Gokongwei-owned Digital Telecommunications Philippines Inc. (Digitel).
The deal will give PLDT a 70% share of the local mobile telecommunications industry, leaving rival Globe Telecom Inc. with just 30%. The PLDT-Digitel deal is being challenged by Globe before the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), claiming it undermines the liberalization of the telecommunications industry in the country mandated by Republic Act 7925.
De Lima maintained addressing monopolies had long been a thrust of the Aquino administration.
"That is very much needed. Hindi na makapaghintay ang administrasyon. Kailangan meron na 'yan to promote economic justice for all to protect the consumers from irregular actions especially of big business like unfair competition," she said.
The justice chief said the executive issuance is aimed at addressing the proliferation of cartels in various industries such as the reported cartels in the oil, rice and sugar industries, among others.