Law firms representing top automotive companies in the Philippines on Wednesday accused the Philippine Metalworkers Association of misrepresentation.
The legal counsels said during the virtual preliminary hearing for definitive safeguard duties on imported vehicles called by the Tariff Commission that PMA workers did not have the authority to represent the industry unless they were “armed with the power of attorney” of all vehicle companies in the Philippines.
The legal counsels said the Department of Trade and Industry’s statement citing PMA as a national union of electronics and metal workers, and not as representative of the domestic motor vehicle industry, was debatable.
China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products representative Atty. Rodolf Britanico said if the PMA does not represent the industry as defined under Section 6 of the Safeguards Act that petitioner for safeguards refers to domestic producers, then the group has “no personality to represent the domestic industry.”
The legal teams also questioned the ability of PMA to come up and present the evidence when they are not even part of the automotive industry and the group’s lack of adjustment plans given the proposed imposition of safeguard duties.
SGV & Co. represented car firms Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. and Isuzu Philippine Corp. while Abad Alcantara and Associates represented Bermaz Auto. Inc., the distributor of Mazda in the Philippines.
Angara Abello Concepcion Regala and Cruz Law Offices attended the hearing for Mitsubishi Motor Philippines Corp. and ABO Law Firm for Sojits G Auto Philippines Corp., distributor of China brand Geely cars.
Tariff Commission officer-in-charge Ernesto Albano said the DTI had legal basis for endorsing the claims of PMA. He said the DTI could initiate a motu propio investigation and its action on the petition only meant that the issue of representation is “not actually an issue”.
The commission advised foreign representatives from Indonesia and Thailand to formally write the commission for requests for meetings to clarify the issues they raised. Indonesia and Thailand are the two biggest exporters of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles to the Philippines.
The Bureau of Customs started on Feb. 1 the collection of provisional P70,000 safeguard duty per unit of imported passenger cars and P110,000 per unit of imported light commercial vehicles as ordered by the DTI.
Participants and representatives were given until March 11, 2021 to submit their position papers. Public hearings will follow on April 26 to 30. The TC is also required to submit its formal investigation report to the DTI on June 3, 2021.