Maharlika fund bill passage by Thursday possible if certified as urgent – lawmaker
MANILA, Philippines — The proposed Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) under House Bill (HB) No. 6608 may be approved on the third and final reading today, December 15, if it is certified as urgent by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
This was according to the Makabayan bloc of the House of Representatives, noting that the period of interpellation on the proposed measure ended Wednesday, and the last session day of the lower chamber could be Thursday even if the House calendar states its recess will be on December 17.
Normally, a bill passed on the second reading would need three session days — not just three calendar days — for it to be voted upon on the third and then final reading. But a President’s urgent stamp on a bill could warrant a swifter process where a second and third reading approval may be done on the same day.
“This is the last day of session for the year 2022 before we go on a recess. Deliberations and debates on the Maharlika Investment Fund bill have been finished; it is set to be passed on second reading today,” Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Party-list Rep. France Castro said in Filipino.
“And if President Marcos Jr. certifies this as urgent, it can also be passed on third reading. So that’s the status of the Maharlika Investment Fund Act,” she added.
ACT is one of the party-list groups belonging to the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives. The other two are Gabriela and Kabataan.
Castro said they would still introduce amendments despite the big possibility that HB No. 6608 will be passed by the lower chamber – as more than 270 lawmakers already expressed their support for the measure.
One of the amendments they would call for is the removal of public borrowings and the inclusion of a provision that would explicitly state that the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Social Security System (SSS) cannot be allowed to invest in the MIF in the future.
“Among the amendments, we can make is the removal of public borrowings, because imagine, there would be borrowings from the fund placed here as capitalization, and yet we have huge debts, our budget is in a deficit. So we need to remove that, amend provisions on public borrowings,” Castro said.
“Because by the time it reaches the bicameral conference committee, they might place GSIS funds. That’s why we should place a specific provision which exempts GSIS and SSS from investments to the MIF later on,” she added.
It could be remembered that the original bill (HB No. 6398) to create the MIF included the GSIS and SSS among government banks and corporations that would contribute money to raise the P275 billion venture capital for the investment trust.
But following an outcry and public pressure, proponents came up with HB No. 6608 taking out the GSIS and SSS.
READ: Even without SSS, GSIS funds in Maharlika Fund, public must be vigilant — Castro
Under the original bill, proponents planned to put up P275 billion venture money for the MIF which will be derived specifically from the GSIS (P125 billion), SSS (P50 billion), Land Bank of the Philippines (P50 billion), Development Bank of the Philippines (P25 billion) and the General Appropriations Act (P25 billion).
The bill seeking to establish the MIF was principally authored by Speaker and Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin Romualdez; Majority Floor Leader and Zamboanga City 2nd District Rep. Manuel Jose Dalipe; Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Ferdinand Alexander “Sandro” Marcos; Tingog Party-list Reps. Yedda Marie Romualdez and Jude Acidre; and Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo.
Former Makabayan lawmaker and Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares had warned that bill authors may insist to include the GSIS and SSS later on when public outrage dies down.
READ: Castro: GSIS, SSS fund may still be in the mix for Maharlika fund after public fury wanes
On December 13, a proponent of the bill for the establishment of the MIF admitted that both the GSIS and SSS may invest in the fund if their respective boards of directors would allow it.
READ: GSIS and SSS may still invest in Maharlika fund if their boards will allow – lawmaker
On December 14, Speaker Romualdez said he prefers that his cousin, President Marcos Jr., certify as urgent HB No. 6608.
Reportedly, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno have similarly asked the President to give his urgent certification to the passage of the measure that would create the MIF.
But ACT Party-list Rep. Castro had argued that there is no necessity to certify the bill as urgent because “people who are already deep [in] debt” do not need it. She emphasized that such a measure should also be thoroughly scrutinized since it involves using huge public funds.
READ: No urgency to pass Maharlika fund bill: People already in deep debt don’t need it – lawmaker
Castro further pointed out that several issues regarding the proposal are yet to be addressed.
Lawmaker says goal of Maharlika fund ‘laudable’ but timing is off
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