As the country eases into the “new normal”, the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) issued on 18 May 2020 the Interim Guidelines on the Operations of the Mergers and Acquisitions Office (MAO) During the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) on the resumption of certain processes after over two months’ suspension in light of the Enhanced Community Quarantine imposed over the National Capital Region (NCR), where the PCC offices are located. The issuance of the Interim Guidelines comes after the NCR transitions to MECQ beginning 16 May 2020 until 31 May 2020.
Resumption of Operations and Lifting of Period Suspensions
Under the Interim Guidelines, the PCC lifts the suspension of the following merger processes effective 18 May 2020:
1. Evaluation of sufficiency of Notification Forms already submitted to the PCC;
2. Acceptance of new Notification Forms, except Expedited Review Notification Forms;
3. Evaluation of Letters of Non-Coverage already submitted to the PCC; and
4. Acceptance of new Letters of Non-Coverage in relation to transactions that, though not covered by compulsory notification, are required by other government agencies to be notified to the PCC.
The MAO also resumes accommodating requests for Pre-Notification Consultations (PNC) during the MECQ. As before, parties are required to submit their requests for PNCs, together with a list of questions or issues and scanned copies of relevant documents, via email to email@example.com. Any request must be accompanied by a written consent granting the PCC staff permission to access the submitted documents and information outside the PCC office premises.
Where previously, the parties and representatives of the MAO would meet at the PCC office for the PNC to discuss the proposed transaction, any clarifications on the information required under the Notification Form and other related issues, under the Interim Guidelines, the MAO will now endeavor to provide its non-binding advice, respond to inquiries, and address the issues raised by parties, via email. Should a live consultation be necessary, the PNC shall be conducted remotely via video conferencing.
Waiver of 30-day Notification Period
The Interim Guidelines likewise provides for the waiver of the 30-day Notification Period under Section 3.1 of the Rules on Merger Procedure for the duration of the MECQ.
Forms for notifiable transactions may be filed at any time after the signing of definitive agreements but prior to any acts of consummation, provided, that the 30th day of the notification period falls within the community quarantine period commencing on 13 March 2020, the date when the suspension of work in the Executive Branch, including the PCC, began. Transactions that should have been notified prior to 13 March 2020 shall not be covered by this waiver.
Submission of Documents for Merger Review
Submission to the PCC of Notification Forms, Letters of Non-Coverage, and other supporting documents shall be done electronically in accordance with the procedures found in Annex A (Instructions on Uploading Documents to the PCC Sharepoint Facility) of the Interim Guidelines.
Parties submitting documents to the PCC must also send a similar written consent signed by their authorized signatory, granting the PCC staff permission to access the submitted documents and information outside the PCC office premises. Parties who have already submitted Notification Forms and Letters of Non-Coverage to the PCC are likewise required to submit the same consent via email.
Finally, hard copies of all documents submitted electronically (plus USB containing digital copies of the documents) must be submitted to the PCC within seven (7) working days from the lifting of the MECQ over NCR.
 Under the Interim Guidelines, the PCC will be using Microsoft Teams for its videoconferences.