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The Philippines Competition Act seeks to level the playing field for all businesses, with the hope that this will lead to more inclusive, sustainable growth and development for the Philippines economy. For micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs), a level playing field should provide opportunities as markets open and become more competitive. An effectively enforced competition law should also give MSMEs the ability to complain about the anti-competitive behaviours of their competitors, customers or suppliers. For these reasons, the law should be viewed as a positive development for small business in the Philippines.
However, the law and its underlying economic policies are complex and may be difficult for many businesses to understand. In other ASEAN member states where competition laws are already in force, MSMEs have fallen foul of the newly introduced competition laws, largely because of a lack of awareness and/or knowledge.
To consider the most appropriate way of raising awareness of competition law and policy (CPL) in the Philippines, it is necessary to understand the Filipino MSME community – their number, geographic spread, main sectors of operation and the legal and regulatory framework within which they operate. The paper then considers the main competition issues likely to arise for MSMEs. Finally, the data collected under the project is analysed to determine the current level of awareness of CPL in the Filipino MSME community. Lessons learned from other ASEAN competition law jurisdictions are considered before making recommendations on how the Philippine Competition Commission can best engage with the MSME community in relation to CPL.
About the Speakers
RACHEL BURGESS is a lecturer in competition and consumer law at the University of Southern Queensland and a research fellow at the Deakin University IPA-Deakin SME Research Centre. Rachel has worked in both the public and private sectors in Australia, the UK and the ASEAN region.
Coming from a broad corporate and commercial background, in the last 15 years Rachel’s work has focussed on competition and consumer law and policy. Since 2010, Rachel has worked primarily in the ASEAN region where she has completed a range of capacity building and technical assistance programmes for new competition regimes on behalf of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Asian Development Bank, the German development agency (GIZ), the Malaysia Competition Commission and the ASEAN Secretariat. Rachel has worked most closely with the Philippines Competition Commission and the Malaysia Competition Commission, providing particular assistance in their early years of operation.
Rachel designed and delivered the first offering of Competition and Consumer Law at the University of Southern Queensland and then converted it to a fully online programme from 2018. Together with Gwen De Vera (University of the Philippines), Rachel was the recipient of an ANU Philippines Project collaborative research grant in 2017 for “Evaluating the level of awareness of the Competition Act in the Filipino MSME community”.
Rachel Burgess holds a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) from the Queensland University of Technology and a Master of Laws in Public International Law (with Merit) from the University of London. She is admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland and a Solicitor of the Courts of England and Wales.
GWEN GRECIA-DE VERA is a Senior Lecturer at the University of the Philippines College of Law, handling courses in Constitutional Law and Commercial Law. She is currently assisting in establishing the Program on Competition Law and Policy of the University of the Philippines Law Center. The Program on Competition Law and Policy is intended to support the legal and institutional framework for competition policy in the country and serve as (i) a platform for developing research and advocacy in competition law and policy in the Philippines and the region, (ii) a forum for academics, practitioners, and enforcement officers in the field of competition.
Prior to the passage of the Philippine Competition Act, Prof. de Vera worked on antitrust and competition issues in various sectors, including pharmaceuticals and power. She also led legal advisory teams in infrastructure or PPPs and advised on transactional IP issues, including technology transfer arrangements. She has experience in transactional and litigation work in both the private and public sectors, having been part of Puyat Jacinto & Santos (PJS Law).
Prof. de Vera also served as the Philippine Competition Commission’s first Executive Director. She is a Philippine Dispute Resolution Center, Inc. accredited arbitrator and has acted on arbitration panels in commercial arbitration. She was Dean of the Manuel L Quezon School of Law. She continues to teach law at the UP College of Law, and has lectured at the Angeles University Foundation and San Beda College Graduate School of Law.