Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo, senior vice chair of the House appropriations committee, admitted to starting the proposal to create the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) the wrong way.

“We started (off) on the wrong foot,” she said, adding that the House of Representatives committees tasked to study the proposal should have consulted first the different sectors, particularly members of the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), about contributing to the MIF funding. Following the public outcry and an online petition, Quimbo said last week that proponents agreed to drop SSS and GSIS as contributors to the fund.

The main argument of those opposing House Bill 6398 that seeks to create the MIF was in the use of SSS and GSIS members’ contributions. This argument is now out of the picture as the House committees will no longer consider their contributions and will instead use the profits of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the contributions of government banks - Land Bank of the Philippines (P50 billion) and the Development Bank of the Philippines (P25 billion).

In television interviews, Quimbo said the MIF bill was drafted by economic managers and there was no or not enough consultation with affected sectors. She called it “the beauty of democracy” that lawmakers listened to the argument of SSS and GSIS members. She said the MIF will start with a lower initial investment and, as the fund grows, she hoped SSS and GSIS members will grab the opportunity for bigger returns. She used the term “proof of life” and said, “Sumali na lang, po, pag handa na” or to let pensioners see the opportunities created by the fund.

Aside from admitting there was no consultation at the start, Quimbo made no other mention of how lawmakers intend to restart the bill’s deliberations on the right footing, this time. She did not mention how depositors of the government banks are welcome to air their position or how the business sector could be consulted on the impact of using BSP profits for the MIF. There were also reports about investible funds of SSS and GSIS which could still be tapped for the fund.

SSS and GSIS members have to remain vigilant and monitor House deliberations on the bill because their money might still end up with the MIF. Their voice should continue to be raised as lawmakers consider other funding options.

The people’s representatives in the House also have to let their constituents know their stand on the bill. The Philippine Association of Retired Professionals Inc. (PARP), for example, has asked Rep. Rodolfo M. Ordanes where the Senior Citizens Party-List stood on the matter and to present PARP’s position during the House deliberations.

District representatives have to seek their constituents’ sentiments and make sure these get relayed when the bill is discussed.

Find out if congressional members truly represent their constituents’ interests and welfare.