• DTI backs PCC probe into cement industry

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    THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) supports the Philippine Competition Commission’s (PCC) move to conduct a full administrative investigation into the alleged violations of competitive practices in the local cement industry.

    “The DTI welcomes the issue….That is the way to correct the prices in the market,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez told reporters on Friday.

    On March 6, the PCC issued a letter saying they found reasonable grounds to proceed to full administrative investigation on the cement industry for possible violations of Sections 14 and 15 of the Philippine Competition Act (Republic Act 10667).

    The move is in response to the affidavit-complaint filed by Victorio Mario Dimagiba, former trade undersecretary for consumer protection and now president of Laban Konsyumer Inc., a non-profit, non-stock registered entity.

    According to the affidavit, Ernesto Ordoñez, in his capacity as president of the Cement Manufacturers Association (CeMAP), LaFarge Holcim Philippines Inc., and Republic Cement and Building Materials Inc. supposedly violated the provisions of the Philippine Competition Act by engaging in anti-competitive agreements.

    These agreements supposedly include restricting competition as to price or components thereof or other terms of trade, abusing their dominant position by engaging in conduct that substantially prevents, restricts, or lessens competition, imposing barriers to entry, or committing acts that prevent competitors from growing within the market, the affidavit claims.

    Ordoñez earlier said that they were not furnished a copy or notified of the complaint filed by Dimagiba.

    “Fairness requires that both sides are heard. Not only were we not given a chance to be heard. More than a month after our letter to PCC asking for what the complaint is about so we could give our side, we still have no reply from PCC,” Ordoñez said.

    He said law firm Cruz, Marcelo and Tenefrancia wrote to PCC on January 25, 2017 inquiring about the complaint.

    “With regards to the alleged complaint of CeMAP, please note that CeMAP has not been furnished a copy of the complaint and is not notified of the allegations against it. CeMAP looks forward to receiving the complaint so it can be given the opportunity to answer the allegations against it,” Ordoñez quoted the letter sent by the law firm as saying.

    This letter, he said, was received by the PCC at 4:15 p.m. on January 26, 2017 but the PCC did not reply to this letter.

    Ordoñez, also a former DTI undersecretary handling consumer protection, cited CeMAP’s track record in the industry. He said that CeMAP bested 33 other industry sectors as the sole Hall of Fame Awardee for Sustainable Development given by the Federation of Philippine Industries over a four-year period.

    CeMAP was also named 2016 Awardee for Industry Development given by the Philippine Council of Associations and Executives, which has 166 association members who advocate good governance.

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