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Automakers and importers are now cracking down on the Philippine Metalworkers Alliance (PMA) for allegedly misrepresenting the local auto manufacturing industry. The alliance is already in hot water after filing a petition to impose safeguard duties on imported vehicles.

During a hearing with the Tariff Commission, members of the legal counsel of several automakers stepped in to voice their concerns. Mitsubishi Motor Philippines Corporation (MMPC) legal counsel Eric Ricalde of SGV& Co. stated that he doubts the ability of the PMA to present data as it does not have access to or personal knowledge on sensitive information about the automakers.

Lawyer Rodolfo Britanico, a representative of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products, also stated the PMA is a national union of automotive, iron and steel, electronics, and electrical sectors, and therefore does not represent the domestic manufacturing industry as a whole. He further cited Section 6 of the Safeguard Measures Act which states that the petitioner for the safeguards refers to a domestic producer.

It is important to note that Tariff Commission officer-in-charge Ernesto Albano has also stated that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) does have a legal basis for endorsing the claims of the PMA. If there were any issues found with it, the government agency can enact a formal infestation into the matter, the fact that it did not do it, however, may signify that it was “not actually an issue”.

The Tariff Commission also advised foreign representatives to formally write to the government agency for requests for meetings to clarify any issues that they might have. This applies to Indonesia and Thailand, as these are the two biggest exporters of passenger cars and light vehicles that enter the Philippine market. Public hearings on the issue will also commence between April 26, 2021, and April 30, 2021. The Tariff Commission will also submit its formal investigation report on the matter to the DTI on June 3, 2021. With that in mind, car prices may still see an increase until the problems with the Safeguard Act get sorted out. 

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