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PCC will look into potential cartel amid high onion pricing

The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) is looking into any anti-competitive behavior in an effort to identify the underlying reason for the high retail costs of onions.

In accordance with House Resolution No. 681 submitted by Stella Luz Quimbo, a former PCC commissioner from Marikina, the PCC has begun an investigation into “potential cartel or abuse of dominance conduct.”

The Philippine Competition Commission stated in a statement on Thursday that it has been looking into the high pricing of onions for potential cartels or abuse of dominant behavior since November 2022.

The antitrust agency claimed that the rapidly rising onion retail prices, which it saw in December 2022 at an outlandish price range of PHP600 per kilogram, were the reason it began its market evaluation.

In conjunction with the sector regulators and other law enforcement agencies, the PCC is investigating the reason of this market anomaly since prices are seen to normalize as a result of imports and the SRP imposed last February 6.

By participating in coordinated anti-competitive action like price-fixing, bid-rigging, output restriction, and market allocation, cartels create significant harm to consumers, according to the PCC, which defines them as “companies colluding to manipulate the market to their advantage.”

Contrarily, abuse of a dominating position is defined as “when an entity with a large degree of power in a market engages in activity that substantially prevents, restricts, or lessens competition.”

The Philippine Competition Act forbids both collusion and exploitation of a dominating position (PCA).

According to the PCC, those caught engaging in anti-competitive activities under the PCA may be subject to fines of up to PHP100 million and jail terms of up to seven years.

“The sanctions may even be treble” if the Price Act’s list of agricultural items or other vital requirements is traded in violation of cartel or abuse of dominance laws, it was stated.

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