Maharlika Investment Fund in need of ‘iron-clad’ provision

MANILA. Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III. (Contributed photo)
MANILA. Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III. (Contributed photo)

SENATE Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III raised on Tuesday, May 30, 2023, the need for an “iron-clad” provision in the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill that will ensure that pension funds will not be touched or compromised.

In a statement, Pimentel said the threat that the pensioners’ hard-earned funds will be touched for the MIF “is still very much alive” and it should be prevented at all cost.

"While they removed the forced contribution from GSIS and SSS, the current version of MIF under consideration by the Senate would allow these social insurance institutions to invest in Maharlika voluntarily as long as their boards agree," Pimentel said.

"Such provisions within the MIF bill raise serious concerns about the safety and security of our pension system. We should provide an iron-clad provision to shield pensions from this very financially unsound and dangerous undertaking called Maharlika Investment Fund. Hindi pwedeng pilitin. Hindi pwedeng hingan. Pero kung kusa at boluntaryong magbibigay, tatanggapin naman," he added.

Pimentel said the bill is “unsalvageable and beyond repair.”

He said creating an investment fund -- with a price tag of P500 billion -- would require the government to divert resources away from more immediate priorities, such as addressing poverty, hunger, education gaps, joblessness, healthcare deficiencies, and the country's ballooning debt.

As of end February, the country's national debt stood at P13.75 trillion.

In the earlier versions of the measure, the Government Service Insurance system (GSIS) and the Social Security System (SSS) were identified as sources for the initial capital of MIF.

The provision was later removed following the tremendous backlash even from executives of GSIS and SSS.

In November 2022, with the backing of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., his cousin, House speaker Martin Romualdez, filed House Bill 6398, which seeks the creation of MIF, saying it will maximize the profitability of investible government assets for the benefit of all Filipinos.

The House of Representatives’ version of the measure was passed on December 15, 17 days after it was filed.

Last week, Marcos certified the bill’s version at the Senate as urgent, saying there is a “compelling need for a sustainable national investment fund as a new growth catalyst to accelerate the implementation of strategic and high-impact large infrastructure projects that will stimulate economic activity and development.”

Such certification will allow the swift passage of the bill. The Senate is now allowed to approve the bill on second and third reading on the same day instead of three days apart.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said the plan is to approve Senate Bill 2020 or the MIF bill on the second and third reading within the week. (SunStar Philippines)


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