Arsenio Balisacan, chair of the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC), would joke in the past about how his job is often confused with regulating sports rather than ensuring a level playing field in business, ultimately to the benefit of the consumer and the broader economy.

But more than three years into his seven-year term, the country’s first PCC chair has grown weary of the misconception. And this week, he’s had enough.

Using the social media platform Twitter, Balisacan lamented how some members of the press sought his comment on the ongoing Southeast Asian Games—a controversial event due to the potent mix of social media, at times overzealous press coverage and organizers that leave much to be desired.

“Not funny,” Baliscan tweeted, while acknowledging that more needs to be done to make the public aware of the PCC and its mission, which at times puts it at odds with some of the country’s biggest business groups.

Still, the PCC plays an important role, the benefits of which can be felt by regular consumers.

Take the favorable filing of the first abuse of dominance case, where the PCC broke an internet exclusivity deal that would have forced residents of condominium to choose an inhouse internet provider.

Or the more high-profile Grab-uber merger, which has resulted in millions of pesos of fines for the Southeast Asian ride-sharing giant and a P5-million rebate for users.

Sure, that would probably amount to a pittance to most individual riders but it’s nonetheless important for businesses to know that squeezing consumers comes with a price tag.

What of media entities that still mistake the PCC as a sports regulator?

Baliscan, who was a University of the Philippines professor and head of the National Economic and Development Authority, gave his usual, straightforward lecture.

“PCC has nothing to do with sports. PCC’S mandate is the enforcement of the law prohibiting anticompetitive market practices,” he said when asked by Bizbuzz of his response.

That constant reminder to the public, at the very least, should create a level playing field in terms of knowledge of the PCC’S role. —MIGUEL R. CAMUS

Taking on giants

For residents of Metro Manila, maybe even the whole of Luzon, the mention of Damosa Land Inc. will probably stir a quizzical look. Hey, even seasoned business journalists or veteran realtors may have to seek the help of Google to tell them what it is.

That is not a surprise. Like many gems from Mindanao, it is only lately that the property developer is noticed due to the spotlight thrown on the region following the election of President Duterte, and the large infrastructure budget earmarked by the government.

Damosa Land is a leading homegrown property developer in Davao and traces its roots to the 1950s, when its previous iteration was that of the car dealership of Don Antonio Floirendo’s Anflo Group called Davao Motor Sales.

In the 1980s, Davao Motor shuttered its windows, went on a long hibernation, then emerged again as Damosa Land in 2004. The company chose to take on the property giants that had then seen the potential of Davao’s real estate market in the wake of a booming local economy.

Damosa Land has experienced a growth spurt in the last few years—a period that coincided with the decision of Columbia Business School-trained Ricardo Floirendo-lagdameo to take up roots in Manila and join one of the family businesses based down South.

Since its inception in 2004, the property developer launched many “firsts”—it’s first agro-industrial estate, its first Peza-accredited IT park, its first condominium project and the first flexible workspace solution in Davao—that have pushed the company’s revenue to a five-fold growth.

But Cary, as he is better known, has yet to fully realize his vision for Damosa Land. Two years ago, the company broke ground on its most ambitious project yet—the 88-hectare Agriya township in Davao City’s neighboring city to the north, Panabo.

The company has set aside around P4 billion to develop a 40-hectare section of the township, which will be home to the agriculture and environment campus of the University of the Philippines, and the region’s first master-planned agro-tourism attraction.

Next year, Damosa Land is also expected to open Diamond Tower, their tallest office building, patterned after wavy banana fibers—a design that translates the company’s agricultural and regional heritage.

Damosa Land has so far financed its projects with internally generated funds. The investment banker in Cary, however, knows that there is a rising demand for real estate in Davao and its neighboring areas. Land value in Davao City alone has reportedly jumped around 25 percent from last year to a high P125,000 a square meter around the city center alone.

Internally generated cash have so far been enough to sustain the projects of Damosa Land; but Cary knows that there will be greater demand for real estate in Mindanao and more competitive challenge posed by property Goliaths in his home turf. Could the David of Davao’s property developers continue to keep up or, perhaps, dominate the Goliaths of the industry? Abangan!

Original Article Published on Philippine Daily Inquirer on November 29, 2019

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