Gutierrez attends signing of the landmark Competition Law

Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez on Tuesday morning attended the signing of the landmark Competition Law held at Rizal Hall, Malacañang Palace.

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The Philippine Competition Act which was ratified by Congress last month will dismantle monopolies, promote a free and fair competition in trade, industry and all commercial economic activities and to penalize all forms of anti-competitive agreements.

President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III has sealed his sealed his stamp on the new law, which has the primary objective of protecting consumer welfare and advancing domestic and international trade and economic development.

Gutierrez attended the ceremonial signing of the law which was headlined by PNoy with Senate President Franklin Drilon and House of Representatives Speaker Sonny Belmonte. Key government officials and other lawmakers from both chambers of Congress were also in attendance.

Gutierrez is one of the primary authors of the law and a House of Representatives delegate to the Bicameral Conference Committee that consolidated the bill.###

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Akbayan lawmaker lauds enactment of landmark Competition Law

“This landmark law is a game-changer.”

Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez on Tuesday has lauded the enactment of a landmark Philippine fair competition law, calling it “a rare trifecta, a victory for the ordinary consumers, the small and medium enterprise owners and the national economy.”

The statement was made after President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquio III on Tuesday morning sealed his stamp on a new law that has been languishing in Congress for 24 years to eliminate monopolies and uncompetitive behaviors in the market.

The Philippine Competition Act which was ratified by Congress last month will dismantle monopolies, promote a free and fair competition in trade, industry and all commercial economic activities and to penalize all forms of anti-competitive agreements.

Among these anti-competitive behaviors include the abuse of dominant position and anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions by large business players to gain the upper hand in business transactions.

“This is a game-changer, particularly for our ordinary consumers who always bear the burden of high or unstable prices arising from the illegal and uncompetitive trade practices, particularly of large market players,” Gutierrez said.

To ensure the full implementation of the national competition policy law, the government will create a Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) as an independent quasi-judicial body attached to the Office of the President.

“Even as we celebrate this important victory, however, one of the primary roles to ensure that market players abide to the new rules of the game lies in the effective implementation of the law through the composition of an effective PCC,” Gutierrez said.

“Through this, we can finally hope that businesses can no longer shrug off accountability arising from collusion, price fixing, monopolies and other business practices which are inimical to the consumers’ welfare and done under the guise of business as usual,” the lawmaker added.

The PCC is composed of a Chairperson and 4 Commissioners who should have been active in the practice of their professions for at least 10 years in the field of economics, law, finance, commerce or engineering.

Among the powers and functions of the Commission would be:

1. Conduct inquiry, investigate, and hear and decide on cases involving any violation of the Competition Act and other existing competition laws upon receipt of a verified complaint from an interested party or upon referral by the concerned regulatory agency, and institute the appropriate civil or criminal proceedings;

2. Issue advisory opinions and guidelines on competition matters, and submit annual and special reports to Congress including proposed legislation for the regulation of commerce, trade or industry;

3. Monitor and analyze the practice of competition in markets that affect the Philippine economy; implement and oversee measures to promote transparency and accountability; and ensure that prohibitions and requirements of competition laws are adhered to.​

“We urge the public to clinch the victory by becoming vigilant on the performance of the commission and its officials , with the objective of protecting consumer welfare and advancing domestic and international trade and economic development,” Gutierrez concluded.###

SCENES from the 10-day study tour mission of AKBAYAN PARTYLIST Rep. Barry Gutierrez in Brazil to learn about the country’s ‪#‎ZeroHunger‬ program

Yesterday, Rep. Barry arrived home from the tour bearing personal lessons about the country’s Zero Hunger Program and the Food Purchase Program wherein smallholder farmers produce and supply the needed food requirements of school children. In this effort, the right of children to adequate and nutritious food is tied up with their education. Moreover, this right is also tied up with social justice and rural development efforts given that the suppliers of food are smallholder farmers, some of whom are beneficiaries of Brazil’s land reform.

Brazil undertakes this linked effort without distorting the supply and demand for agricultural products through market-referenced pricing. Thus, Philippines has much to learn about Brazil’s mechanisms for ending hunger and reducing poverty.

These experiences could help help shape and ramp up our national efforts to push for our #ZeroHunger campaign in the country.

Amidst hostile criticisms, Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez reaffirms his support for same-sex unions

Akbayan Rep. Ibarra "Barry" Gutierrez III

Akbayan Rep. Ibarra “Barry” Gutierrez III

Yesterday, at the regular media forum at the House of Representatives, I spoke about my support for same sex unions and my belief that, in the wake of related developments in other countries such as Ireland and the United States, we should begin the national conversation on the issue. To serve as an impetus for this discussion, I likewise expressed my willingness to file a bill legalizing same sex unions in the next Congress.

Responses to this declaration came swiftly and loudly. There were expressions of agreement and support, as well as a larger number of rather vociferous objections. There were those who opined that I should first focus on other issues, such as divorce, and those who dismissed my statement as mere grandstanding or an attempt to jump on the Obergefell bandwagon. Quite a few questioned my religious inclinations, with a handful just falling short of accusing me of outright wickedness or impiety. Several friends and colleagues told me that my decision to speak up on the issue was not politically advisable, and that I should have hedged or, perhaps more preferably, avoided the matter altogether.

This virtual avalanche of responses, naturally, led me into no small amount of introspection. Why DID I say what I said, and why now?

Thinking about it, I suppose the answer is simple:

I did not hedge, or quibble, or qualify, or avoid the issue because what I said was what I believed to be right.

The plain truth is, not speaking as a politician, or a party representative, or a member of Congress, but as a citizen and a human being, I believe that as a matter of human rights and human dignity, the State should sanction same sex unions in the same way it presently does heterosexual ones. I personally feel that there is no basis for the State to discriminate between the two, both as a matter of law and as a matter of equity.

This is not to say that the various religions that take it as a tenet of faith that marriages should only be between a man and a woman should be compelled to change their views — such a change, if ever, should come through their own processes, at their own time — but insofar as the State, and its secular instrument Law, are concerned, I think the direction is clear.

I acknowledge though, that there are those, in fact there are many, who disagree, perhaps violently, with me. And that is precisely why I think that we should have a national conversation on this issue. By all means let us debate and argue and discuss and contest, but let us TALK about it. Let us not sweep this discussion under the rug, and assume for everyone else that it is simply something not worth talking about right now. I for one believe that rights and dignity and equal treatment under the law are always worth talking about, and that is certainly the case here.

And if what we need to get this conversation started, and for more of our fellow citizens to join in, is for someone in Congress to propose legislation on the matter, then yes, I’ll only be too happy to do it. If that means that some people will hate me, or campaign against me, or condemn me for a hopeless sinner, then I guess that’s the price I pay for honestly expressing what I believe.

And just to be clear, for the few confused souls who think this is the only issue I am committed to working on, it is just one, albeit an important one, of my many advocacies in Congress. In my two years as a legislator, I think my record is already clear enough to speak for itself.

Thanks for watching and, oh, P.S. I’m also in favor of a divorce law.###