Petition challenging constitutionality of Maharlika fund filed

File photo
File photo

A PETITION for certiorari and prohibition was filed by Bayan Muna before the Supreme Court on Monday, September 18, 2023, as it sought to declare the controversial Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) Act of 2023 as unconstitutional.

The petitioners include Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares, former Bayan Muna representative Isagani Zarate and Ferdinand Gaite, and Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.

They seek the issuance of temporary restraining order and writ of preliminary injunction and/or status quo ante order against the Maharlika law, which was passed “despite warning of experts and lawmakers and broad opposition from the Filipino people.”

“This is a petition for certiorari and prohibition of the Maharlika Investment Fund Act (RA 11954) which we argue is unconstitutional for a number of reasons. For one, it did not go through a test of economic viability. During this time of pressing economic problems such as food inflation, rising unemployment, the possibility of losing public funds due to mismanagement or corruption should not be risked,” Colmenares said.

“Secondly, the presidential certification of urgency is baseless, and the authors changed the contents of the bill despite Congress’ approval on third reading. Also, Maharlika is an infringement on the independence of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Amid inflation, rising foreign debt, etc., BSP should not be involved in the funding of this investment vehicle. In actuality, Maharlika is not independent of Malacañang, thus exposing the investment vehicle to corruption and cronyism,” he added.

Named as respondents were Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Colmenares maintained that the MIF should be scrapped immediately as it is a “disaster waiting to happen.”

The petitioners noted that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. failed to observe the Constitution’s requirement in terms of certifying the Maharlika bill as urgent in the Senate and House of Representatives.

Under Article 6, Section 26 (2) of the 1987 Constitution, “No bill passed by either House shall become a law unless it has passed three readings on separate days, and printed copies thereof in its final form have been distributed to its members three days before its passage, except when the President certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment to meet a public calamity or emergency. Upon the last reading of a bill, no amendment thereto shall be allowed, and the vote thereon shall be taken immediately thereafter, and the yeas and nays entered in the journal.”

In July, Marcos signed into law Republic Act 11954, also known as the MIF Act of 2023, which he said is a “bold step towards our country’s meaningful economic transformation.”

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.

It is expected to generate income for the government and help promote economic development.

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). (SunStar Philippines)

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