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Imee pledges to aid in reviving the intelligence fund to go after agri-cartels.

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On Thursday, Senator Imee Marcos committed to assisting the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) in reviving the allocation of funding for intelligence in its 2023 budget.

This came as Marcos encouraged PCC to take legal action against agricultural cartels, syndicates, and other anti-competitive practices in the sector.

During a budget hearing, she told PCC Officer-in-Charge Johannes Bernabe, “Given the desperate need for relief amid so many food shortages as well as spiraling food prices, sana tumutok kayo dun (hopefully you can focus on it) and we will consider and recommend another round of intelligence funds even if they’re very small at this point. She added, “Whatever we can afford should be devoted to providing food.

We now have n MOA [Memorandum of Agreement] with the NBI [National Bureau of Investigation], which would allow us to pursue investigations more vigorously. Therefore Bernabe said that the notion of reinserting a minor amount for our intelligence budget would be helpful.

When questioned about its former intelligence fund, a PCC official responded that the commission had received PHP5 million in approval in 2020. Still, that funding was not supplied in the years that followed.

Bernabe said the Covid-19 outbreak prevented the 2020 intelligence fund from being used.

Bernabe recalled claiming it was returned to the Bureau of Treasury because “we could not truly use it for the investigators to go on the ground.”

According to Marcos, the PCC should focus on the persistent complaints of anti-competitive hoarding tactics and other exploitative abuses in the agriculture and commercial sectors rather than the telecoms and other industries.

The PCC is seeking to spend PHP508 million next year, more than PHP61 million less than its approved budget this year. The PCC has projects totaling PHP866 million that has been approved for foreign assistance.

It is an independent quasi-judicial agency tasked with enforcing Republic Act No. 10667, often known as the Philippine Competition Act, which is the main legislation for fostering and safeguarding market competition.

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