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PCC to investigate alleged cement price manipulation

The Philippine Competition Commission said it found reasonable grounds to conduct a full investigation on the cement industry for possible violation of the Philippine Competition Act.

PCC was replying to an affidavit–complaint filed by Victorio Mario Dimagiba, a former Trade undersecretary and now president of Laban Konsyumer Inc.

The commission said in a reply letter to Dimagiba dated Jan. 27, 2017 that it conducted a preliminary inquiry on the allegations.

The commission terminated the preliminary inquiry, saying it found reasonable grounds to proceed to full administrative investigation on the cement industry’s possible violations of Sections 14 and 15 of the Philippine Competition Act.

Under the anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant position clauses, the cement companies involved in the case may face administrative fines of up to P100 million.

Dimagiba alleged in his affidavit-complaint filed on Aug. 22, 2016 that the respondents―Cement  Manufacturers Association president Ernesto Ordoñez, LaFarge Holcim Philippines Inc. and Republic Cement and Building Materials Inc.―engaged in price manipulation.

Dimagiba claimed that CeMAP used the trade association and pseudo consumer groups  to justify the violation of the Philippine Competition Act when it filed unsubstantiated and frivolous cases solely against non-CeMAP imported brands alleging substandard cement.

The group also circulated in media and other forums misleading and unsupported information that current oversupply and low demand in other Asean countries risked flooding the country with substandard cement, maintained prices of domestic cement in the retail market unreasonably high that opened  independent importers to suits on predatory pricing.

Dimagiba also said that the group had circulated unverified reports inferring that  independent importers of cement were technical smugglers as it sought to embed in the Trade Department the interests of CeMAP to ensure the continued protection of the interests of its members.

Prior to filing the complaint before the commission, Dimagiba wrote a demand letter to Ordoñez in August 2013 while facing similar complaint from a cement trader for violation of the anti-graft law and falsification of public documents.

Topics: Philippine Competition Commission , cement industry , price manipulation , Philippine Competition Act
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