SENATE Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III urged President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Friday, June 2, 2023, to veto the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill, which was swiftly passed by Congress on Wednesday, May 30, 2023.

In a statement, Pimentel said the proposed measure for the creation of a sovereign wealth fund “in its current form, is not acceptable” and should be returned to Congress.

“It is in the best interest of the Filipino people and the administration if the measure is sent back to Congress, so we will have the chance to take a second look at the measure in order to address the concerns raised by many sectors,” he said.

"By returning it to Congress, it will allow us to resolve conflicting provisions and add more safeguards to protect the funds and foster transparency and accountability," he added.

Pimentel said the bill’s flaws are a result of haste and ill-conceived legislation, noting that it is “full of opaque provisions, contradictions, ambiguities, and loopholes" that needs to be addressed.

The opposition senator said he will make himself available as a source of some facts, information and arguments for those who will challenge the measure before the courts.

The MIF bill was certified as urgent by Marcos in both the Senate and House of Representatives.

The House’s version of the bill was passed in December, 17 days after it was filed.

Marcos said in his certification that 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.”

The House adopted the Senate’s version of the bill the same day it was passed on the third and final reading, making it a step closer to becoming a law, which will result in the creation of Maharlika Investment Corporation.

The senators who voted in favor of the MIF were Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, Senator Mark Villar who is the principal author of the bill, and Senators Cynthia Villar, JV Ejercito, Sonny Angara, Alan Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Ronald dela Rosa, Jinggoy Estrada, Sherwin Gatchalian, Christopher Go, Lito Lapid, Robin Padilla, Grace Poe, Ramon Revilla Jr., Francis Tolentino and Raffy Tulfo.

Senator Risa Hontiveros voted against the bill while Senator Nancy Binay abstained.

Pimentel and Senators Francis Escudero and Marcos’s sister Imee Marcos were not present during the voting.

Escudero earlier said that the purpose and reason for the creation of the MIF remain vogue and nebulous.

He tagged the proposed measure as a “leap of faith to the great unknown.”

Marcos said she is not in favor that with the involvement of a large amount of money, the bill is being done in haste.

“Kasi ang pagkaintindi ko, nagkakaroon ng sovereign fund kapag naka jackpot ang isang bansa (Because the way I understand it, a sovereign fund is created when a country hits the jackpot)... When you get a windfall, that’s usually the beginning of a sovereign wealth fund. I don’t feel any windfall right now. I feel utang,” she said.

Zubiri earlier expressed confidence that the MIF bill has airtight safeguards against misuse and abuse.

The seed capital of the MIF will 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 Pagcor, properties, real and personal identified by the DOF-Privatization and Management Office and other sources such as royalties and/or special assessments.

The Social Security System, Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth), Pag-Ibig, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa), Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), and Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) were perpetually banned from investing in the MIF, whether on a mandatory or voluntary basis.

The funds 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.

Marcos said the sovereign wealth fund is expected to generate income for the government and help promote economic development. (SunStar Philippines)