THE Senate version of the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill, which was passed on final reading Wednesday, May 31, 2023, will be transmitted to the office of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. for signature.
This is after the House of Representatives adopted during its plenary session on Wednesday afternoon, Senate Bill 2020 or the MIF Act.
Sen. Joel Villanueva, in their plenary session, said there is no need for the measure to be ratified by the bicameral committee because the lower chamber adopted the version of the Senate.
Senate Bill 2020, sponsored by Sen. Mark Villar, was approved following an 11-hour plenary session which ran from Tuesday afternoon to around 2:30 a.m. of Wednesday.
The Senate’s approval of the Maharlika bill drew immediate denunciation from democratic socialist political party Akbayan, which slammed the upper chamber for “enabling the country’s largest investment scam.”
The MIF is a sovereign wealth fund that will be used to invest in a wide range of assets, including foreign currencies, fixed-income instruments, domestic and foreign corporate bonds, commercial real estate, and infrastructure projects.
The fund is expected to generate income for the government and help promote economic development.
The House of Representatives passed its version of the MIF bill, House Bill 6608, last Dec. 15, or just 17 days after it was filed.
Among the amendments adopted by the upper chamber in its version of the MIF bill is to prohibit the Social Security System (SSS), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Philippine Health Insurance Corp., Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, and Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-Ibig Fund) from investing in the MIF, whether on a mandatory or voluntary basis.
In earlier versions of the measure, the GSIS and SSS had been identified as sources for the initial capital of the MIF. The provision was later removed following the tremendous backlash even from executives of GSIS and SSS.
The capital of the MIF will now be sourced from the Landbank of the Philippines (P50 billion), Development Bank of the Philippines (25 billion) and the National Government (P50 billion).
The contribution from the National Government will come from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ total declared dividends, National Government’s share from the income of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., properties, real and personal identified by the Department of Finance-Privatization and Management Office and other sources such as royalties and/or special assessments.
Akbayan Party was not satisfied.
“Our lawmakers just passed a measure enabling the country’s largest investment scam. And the government itself is the con artist,” Akbayan Party said in a statement Wednesday.
The bill cleared the Senate with 19 lawmakèrs voting in favor, and one abstaining. Only Akbayan Party Sen. Risa Hontiveros voted no.
“This bill shouldn’t even exist,” Akbayan Party president Rafaela David said. “Safeguards may be in place now, but a law is only as good as its execution. And we should not be lulled into a false sense of security just because these measures exist in the bill.”
“Pera ng bawat Pilipino ang nakasalalay dito. Nabudol na tayo ng isang Marcos noon. Hindi na dapat ngayon (The money of each Filipino is at stake here. We’ve already been swindled by a Marcos before. It should not happen again today),” David said.
Under the approved Senate bill, individuals with pending judicial and administrative cases related to fraud, plunder, corruption, money-laundering, tax evasion, or any crimes similar to misuse of funds or breach of trust are absolutely disqualified from becoming members of the Maharlika Investment Corp. (MIC).
The bill also imposes heavier penalties of a fine ranging from P1 million to P5 million, perpetual disqualification from public office, and imprisonment of six years for those who will misuse the MIF.
In Cebu, San Remigio Mayor Alfonso Pestolante said while he is aware that there is no perfect program, he has placed his whole trust in this initiative.
“For me, it really is [in] my trust in the current administration of Marcos,” he told SunStar Cebu on Wednesday.
He said despite the disagreement of the minority, there are no reasons to oppose the initiatives and plans of the current administration.
“I think Marcos has been supported by the more than majority of the Filipino people. And having invested our trust in him, then I will support his plan in pursuing the Maharlika Investment program,” Pestolante said.
He is aware that it is not risk-free, but he believes that risks exist just like in any business.
Pestolante supported the UniTeam alliance of President Marcos and Vice President Sara Duterte in the 2022 presidential elections. (SunStar Philippines, KJF)
Senator Mark Villar (Senate of the Philippines Facebook page)
June 01, 2023
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