The Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) has approved the terms of settlement, with modifications, proposed by Urban Deca Homes Manila Condominium Corp.and its parent company 8990 Holdings Inc. to break the exclusive dealbetween Urban Deca Homes and its in-house internet service provider(ISP) “Fiber to Deca Homes” in nine of its projects across the country.
The PCC said this marks the closure of the “first abuse of dominance”case in the country.
The two firms were ordered to immediately cease their admittedmisconduct, pay a fine of P27.11 million within 30 days, and complywith the terms and conditions of settlement.
“They shall be monitored regularly for compliance and subjected tofurther fines and penalties for any breach,” Arsenio Balisacan, PCC chairman, said.
“This is a landmark case for the PCC that successfully resolved tostop an anticompetitive practice, restore competition in the affected market, and set as example to deter other businesses from employingsimilar exclusive dealings,”Balisacan added.
In a statement of objections issued in March, the PCC enforcement unitcharged the mass housing developer with abuse of dominance forimposing a sole ISP on its unit owners and tenants.
Residents claimedthey were prevented from applying for other ISPs when the in-house“Fiber to Deca Homes” service was slow, expensive, and unreliable.
“Competition – or lack of it – can be felt at home, at work, and in one’sdaily activities. The residents may have chosen Urban Deca as theiraddress, but the condo developer should not limit the choices ofresidents for other services,” said Balisacan.
Instead of contesting PCC’s complaint, the respondents proposed tocorrect their anticompetitive conduct through a motion for settlementnegotiated from May to July. The proposed terms were then subjected topublic comments in early August before these were submitted to the commission for final decision.
Balisacan said although the case started from complaints ofresidents in Urban Deca Manila in Tondo, the terms of settlement applyto eight other Urban Deca projects located inMandaluyong, Muntinlupa,Bulacan, Cavite, Iloilo, and Cebu.
Abuse of dominance is a violation of Section 15 of the PhilippineCompetition Act, which prohibits exploitative and exclusionary conductthat substantially lessens competition.
“Let this be a warning to businesses that abuse their market power byelbowing out competitors for their own gain. This case shows that thePCC is serious about addressing anticompetitive practices that havelong been considered par for the course in different industries.Unscrupulous businessmen can only expect the PCC to pursue more casesof a similar nature in the future,” Balisacan said.