Tell it to SunStar: Economy: Beyond money (or Maharlika)

By Earl Martinez of Barangay San Antonio
Tell it to SunStar: Economy: Beyond money (or Maharlika)

The Maharlika Investment Fund is just about money, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. I need not mention in this piece the numerous reasons why such a government obsession is bad not only for Juan de la Cruz, but for the nation as a whole, lest I sound like a broken record.

Too many analyses, studies and arguments to oppose the “Fund” have been proffered thus far by economic experts, business leaders, government officials (past and present), media and several authorities/people from several different sectors -- enough to convince the President, his economic managers and political allies. But they remain adamant, doggedly arbitrary and preposterous. Headstrong and “savvy” -- sans judgment, acuity or foresight.

Our nation has problems much bigger than money, bigger or more sensible than what proponents of Maharlika would always say, “the need for revenues to fund government programs.”

Money is what the Philippine government has been craving for and running after (one administration after another), yet money remains ever elusive because money (or wealth) is merely a result of wisdom (or correct thinking) and uprightness which two virtues our leaders need to possess and be running hard after, first and foremost.

If money is the problem, then why does BBM seem cold to the idea or imperative action to curb and ultimately stop all robbery and crookedness in the government?

President Bongbong Marcos recently addressed the officials and employees of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) when he graced the Bataan-Cavite Interlink Bridge Milestones ceremony in Mariveles, Bataan. Yet, in his speech, there was no mention of corruption despite the fact and common knowledge that DPWH is among the leading corrupt agencies in the government -- as though all is well in the rotten department.

“The Philippines is losing around P700 billion, or over 20 percent of the country’s total budget appropriation, yearly, due to corruption,” said the report. Imagine that. Alarming! But when will our officials be alarmed? The Philippines is one of the most corrupt among Asia Pacific countries. Filipinos lead the pack as we are sixth in rank.

Former Deputy Ombudsman Cyril Ramos admonished, “We need to keep reminding ourselves how destructive corruption is, especially for developing countries like ours... The figure is equivalent to some 1.4 million housing for the poor, medical assistance for around seven million Filipinos, or a rice buffer stock that can last for more than a year. With that amount, no Filipino would get hungry.” Bull’s eye. Furthermore, he noted in 2019 that in the past two years alone, “the government may have lost P1.3 trillion due to corruption.”

If money is indeed the problem, why do our officials and politicians throw away millions or billions upon billions of pesos to confidential funds, intel funds, pork barrel funds, discretionary funds and all other assorted secret funds and so-called investment funds (like MIF) that are beyond the reach of the Commission on Audit. With MIF, we are adding more such kinds of “funds” (to the list) that are clear, massive sources of greed or corruption.

Dear BBM, believe the critics and opponents of MIF more than your sycophants, “experts” and blind masseurs. Lead the nation to prosperity and genuine progress. You can do it, Sir, without your favorite, adored baby -- the Maharlika Investment Fund.

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