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Ombudsman, antitrust body partner vs. bid riggers, fixers, cartels

The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has forged a partnership with the Office of the Ombudsman to fight bid rigging, price fixing, and cartels in government procurements and projects.

In a press statement on Friday, the PCC said that the partnership could "boost the detection, investigation, and prosecution of the anti-competitive conducts."

The PCC is mandated to prohibit anti-competitive conduct and penalize violators.

“The PCC is like an ‘Ombudsman of the market.’ We go after cartels, bid manipulators, price fixers, etc.–cases that may also potentially involve criminal offenses such as bribery, graft and corruption, over which the OMB has jurisdiction,” PCC Commissioner El Cid Butuyan said.

“There are significant synergies and complementarity of the two (2) agencies in pursuing a shared mandate to detect and penalize misconduct. We expect this partnership between the OMB and the PCC to provide a big boost in promoting integrity both in the public and corporate sectors,” he added.

Bid-rigging cases are examples of how the mandates of the PCC and Office of the Ombudsman converge. The agency may take on cases where government officials receive payoff to cover large scale transactions by market leaders.

Penalties of bid rigging range from P100 million to P250 million, imprisonment from two to seven years, and a fine ranging from P50 to P250 million. — Jessica Bartolome/MDM, GMA News