Maharlika Investment Fund bill OK rushed, say House minority solons
MANILA, Philippines — Lawmakers from the minority bloc in the House of Representatives who voted against the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) believe approval of the bill was rushed, with the proposal being approved in just around 18 calendar days since House Bill (HB) No. 6398 was filed.
According to Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman, he voted against HB No. 6608 — the latest version of the original HB No. 6398 — because he believes there was not much discussion done before the bill was passed.
HB No. 6608 was approved on second reading on Thursday — the last session day of the 19th Congress for 2022. It was approved on third reading on the same day, after President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. certified the bill as urgent.
Normally, bills approved on second reading would have to be deliberated after three session days, but such provision is waived if the bill is deemed urgent.
READ: Marcos Jr. certifies as urgent Maharlika Investment Fund bill
“Nobyembre 28 nang ma-file ang bill, naisama sa Order of Business at agad na na-refer sa Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries, all on the same day. Kinabukasan, Nobyembre 29, nag-schedule agad ng hearing sa committee sa panukala at inaprubahan ang bill subject to the amendments ng isang TWG na itinayo para ayusin ang mga probisyon,” Hataman said.
(It was filed on November 28 and it was immediately included at the Order of Business and was referred to the Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries, all on the same day. On the next day, on November 29, a hearing was scheduled immediately at the committee and was approved subject to the amendments of a technical working group to fix the provisions.)
Hataman pointed out that the substitute bill to HB No. 6398 was already approved at the second hearing of the Committee on banks and financial intermediaries, while it was approved by the Committee on ways and means on December 5; the Committee on appropriations on December 9; and forwarded to the plenary by December 12.
“All in all, from filing to final approval, it only took members of the House of Representatives 18 calendar days to give final approval to the Maharlika Investment Fund bill. For me, it is not enough time to strengthen the provisions in the bill especially if a lot of sectors would be affected, and many have opposed the bill.,” Hataman said.
Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman meanwhile warned that the swift passage of the MIF bill could reap public anger.
“We must bail out our people today from poverty, inflation and the dire prospects of recession, rather than investing in long-term ventures while our people may perish ahead without enjoying the promised fruits of Maharlika. Help our people survive in the short term so that they can relish the benefits in the long-term,” Lagman said.
“No avalanche of accepted amendments could perfect the Maharlika bill which was introduced and deliberated with inherent substantial and chronic defects […] How can we compete globally for investors given that the MIF is embarrassingly miniscule since we cannot afford a more substantial and comparable start-up capital. Let us prudently avoid the people’s wrath,” he added.
During the session, 279 lawmakers voted in favor of the bill’s approval on third reading. Only six lawmakers voted against it — Hataman, LP stalwarts Lagman and Camarines Sur 3rd District Rep. Gabriel Bordado Jr., and Makabayan bloc Reps. France Castro (Alliance of Concerned Teachers), Arlene Brosas (Gabriela), and Raoul Manuel (Kabataan).
Castro echoed the other lawmakers’ sentiments, saying there was no public consultation made.
“Sa katunayan, inaprubahan na sa Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries ang Maharlika Wealth Fund Bill bago pa man magsagawa ng “briefing” with the stakeholders. Take note, briefing lang at hindi consultation,” Castro said.
(Actually it was approved at the Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries before briefings with stakeholders were made. Take note, briefing only, not consultations.)
“Kung hindi pa nagkaroon ng malakas na pagtutol ang taong-bayan laban sa panukalang batas ay hindi pa ibubukas ang pagdinig ng panukalang batas sa publiko,” she added.
(If there was no strong opposition from the people regarding the bill, then hearings would not be opened to the public.)
READ: Maharlika fund bill passage by Thursday possible if certified as urgent – lawmaker
READ: No urgency to pass Maharlika fund bill: People already in deep debt don’t need it – lawmaker
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