Philippine Competition Commission suspends filing of pleadings and other submissions

On 19 March 2020, the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) issued a Public Advisory (Advisory) which suspended the period for the filing of pleadings and other submissions, and for the payment of fines and penalties from 16 March to 14 April 2020 (Enhanced Community Quarantine Period).

What the Advisory says

The PCC Rules of Procedure provide the period for the filing of pleadings, motions and other submissions to the PCC. On the other hand, the PCC may provide for the period for the payment of fines and penalties, in an order or resolution arising out of an administrative case (collectively, Periods).

Under the Advisory, all applicable Periods shall be suspended beginning 16 March 2020. The Periods shall begin to run again on 15 April 2020 or on the day after the Enhanced Community Quarantine Period ends, whichever is applicable. Parties shall have the balance of their respective Periods to file their submissions with, or pay the fines and penalties imposed by, the PCC. Submissions and payments made during the balance of the period shall be considered to have been timely made.

Implications to Parties

For example, under the PCC Rules of Procedure, respondents may file a Reply to the other respondents' Verified Answer in an administrative case pending before the PCC's Adjudication Division within twenty (20) days from receipt thereof. For parties who have received the Verified Answer on or before 15 March 2020, their 20-day period to file a Reply shall not include the period between 16 March to 14 April 2020. On 15 April 2020 or on the day after the enhanced community quarantine has lifted, whichever is applicable, the respondents will have the remaining balance of their 20-day period to file their Reply.

On the other hand, for respondents who received the Verified Answer on 16 March 2020 or during the Enhanced Community Quarantine, they will have a fresh period of 20 days, which shall start to run on 15 April 2020 or on the day after the enhanced community quarantine has been lifted, as may be applicable.

As for the payment of fines, if the PCC for instance, issues an order imposing a penalty of PhP 1,000,000 against an entity because it intentionally or negligently supplied incorrect or misleading information in any document filed with or submitted to the PCC, the entity must pay such fine within the period stated in the PCC's Order. Assuming the Order requires payment of the fine within a period of 30 days from receipt of the Order and the Order was received by the penalized party on or before 15 March 2020, their 30-day period to pay the fine shall not include the period between 16 March to 14 April 2020. On 15 April 2020 or on the day after the enhanced community quarantine has lifted (whichever is applicable), the entity will have the remaining balance of its 30-day period to pay the fine.

Alternatively, if the entity received the PCC Order on 16 March 2020 or during the Enhanced Community Quarantine, they will have a fresh period of 30 days to pay the fine, which shall start to run on 15 April 2020 or on the day after the enhanced community quarantine has been lifted, as may be applicable.

Actions to consider

Parties are reminded that the Advisory only operates to suspend the timelines for the filing of submissions and the payment of fines and penalties. The Advisory does not dispense with filing and payment after the Enhanced Community Quarantine Period ends.

To ensure timely filing or payment, parties must still file their respective pleadings or submissions or pay any imposed fines and penalties, within the balance of applicable Period, once the Enhanced Community Quarantine Period ends.

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