Revised Maharlika Fund bill is much better version, minority solon says
MANILA, Philippines — The latest bill containing the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) is a much better version than the original proposal filed in the House of Representatives, a key member of the Minority Floor said.
During his interpellation of House Bill (HB) No. 6608 — the fourth version of HB No. 6398 — Deputy Minority Leader and Northern Samar 1st District Rep. Paul Daza said that democracy prevailed as the proponents of the bill listened to the plea from people.
After HB No. 6398 was filed last November, critics, including Daza, called out several provisions, including one that would pool funds from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Social Security System (SSS) into the MIF, as it endangers the pension benefit of government and private workers.
But with the amendments made last Friday and other changes like the removal of the sitting president as board chairperson and the increase of independent directors, Daza sees no problems with it.
“I feel like this is now a much, much better version, and I think it’s something that I can support, the answers were very clear, and addressed. I think many of my concerns in fact, the public’s concern (were addressed) […] I think pwede ko pong sabihin sa aking mga kababayan, nakinig po ang mga Congressmen and Congresswomen sa Kongreso, umiral po ang demokrasya,” he said on Monday.
(I can tell my constituents that lawmakers from Congress listened to our demands, and democracy prevailed.)
Daza also said proper credit could be given to the authors of the bill and its supporters for fine-tuning it.
“I think I must say, one of my favorite sayings: give credit where credit is due. Two weeks ago when I voiced out my concerns, and in fact my objections on some of the provisions, it appears and we’ve been assured that — at least for this representation — all my concerns have been addressed,” Daza said.
“GSIS, SSS, has been deleted as a source of funding, the national budget, the two percent cap, additional independent directors, there’s even punitive sections […] So I would like to commend the sponsors, the leadership, in listening to the inputs not just from this representation and colleagues but from the public and stakeholders. So thank you for that,” he added.
During Monday’s session, the plenary debates on HB No. 6608 started, with House Committee on banks and financial intermediaries chairperson and Manila 5th District Rep. Irwin Tieng sponsoring the bill.
According to Tieng, the new bill contains the following amendments:
- Change in capitalization and funding
- Change in board composition
- Exclusion of Sections 15, 19, 25, and 26 on the GOCC Governance Act of 2011
- Removal of exemption from the Philippine Competition Act
Amendments suggested last Friday, during the House Committee on appropriations, like the removal of the president as board chair and the increase of independent directors was also adopted.
Despite this stamp of approval from Daza, there are other Minority lawmakers still not pleased with the bill. On Monday, Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro warned that the GSIS and SSS funds can still be placed in the succeeding bill versions.
Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman said that discussions about the bill should not be fast-tracked, saying the House leadership should allow lawmakers to use the holiday break to consult their constituents.