SC launches rule on inspection, search in PH competition cases

SC launches rule on inspection, search in PH competition cases

21.1.2020

SC launches rule on inspection, search in PH competition cases

Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta officially launched on Tuesday (Jan. 21) the rule on administrative search and inspection to speed up the investigation and prosecution of offenses under the Philippine Competition Act (PCA), Republic Act No. 10667.

Supreme Court (MANILA BULLETIN) Peralta launched the rule, which was approved by the Supreme Court (SC) as a full court last September, before the seminar workshop of special commercial court judges in Manila. The rule, which became effective on Nov. 16, 2019, governs the application, issuance, and enforcement of an inspection order for administrative investigations of alleged violations of the PCA, its implementing rules and regulations, and other competition laws. The PCA defines and penalizes anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position, and anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions. The law gives the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) “the power, upon order of the court, to undertake inspections of business premises and other offices, land, and vehicles, as used by the entity, where it reasonably suspects that relevant books, tax records, or other documents which relate to any matter relevant to the investigation are kept, in order to prevent the removal, concealment, tampering with, or destruction of the books, records, or other documents.” An inspection order can be applied for at the designated special commercial courts in the cities of Manila, Quezon, Makati, Pasig, Cebu, Iloilo, Davao, and Cagayan de Oro. Under the rule, an inspection order “is an order in writing issued in the name of the Republic of the Philippines, signed by a judge, upon application of the PCC, through its duly authorized officer, authorizing the PCC and any law enforcement agency that may be deputized by the PCC to assist in the execution of the order, to search and inspect business premises and other offices, land and vehicles, for information to be examined, copied, photographed, recorded, or printed, in order to prevent the removal, concealment, tampering with, or destruction of such information.” The information mentioned in the rule “shall include, but shall not be limited to, books, tax records, documents, papers, accounts, letters, photographs, objects or tangible things, databases and means of accessing information contained in such databases, and electronically stored information as defined in the rules of procedure of the PCC….” The rule also states that “all applications for an inspection order shall be acted upon within 24 hours from its filing.” Peralta said the rule was drafted and adopted by the SC “to ensure that the exercise of the power granted under the PCA is effective, objective, efficient, and provides a balance between the right to due process and the strong public interest in the enforcement of the law.” He said the SC has been constantly improving rules on procedure so that the courts may provide effective service to the public. He pointed out that the rules “ensure that the results of court processes and issuances are in accordance with the principles of justice and legitimacy” and “form vital links that connect the domain of substantive law to that of judicial administration–ensuring that the application of the law in relation to the rights and liberties of the public is not only accurate but is also orderly, timely, and intelligible.” Related Posts Read more: Manila Bulletin News

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