Senate to tackle Maharlika fund ‘one step at a time’ but without delay
MANILA, Philippines — Following President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s call to study carefully the Maharlika fund bill, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri on Tuesday vowed to tackle the measure “one step at a time” without delay.
Marcos earlier asked the Senate to examine closely the proposal, stressing that it is “more important to be right than to be quick.”
“That’s what I’ve been saying from the beginning diba, na pagaralan natin ng mabuti iyan (that we should study it well),” Zubiri said in a text message when sought for comment on the President’s call.
“We will start with the House version and propose perfecting amendments to it. We will consult with all sectors and lay the premise on why the fund is necessary and if it is, what are the proper safeguards to keep it away from corruption and mismanagement.”
“We will tackle this one step at a time but will not delay the process,” the Senate leader added.
Last month, the House of Representatives passed its own version of the controversial bill that originally sought to establish a P275 billion sovereign wealth fund from various government banks and agencies.
But after public outcry, the House scrapped the P125 billion fund proposal to be sourced from the Government Service Insurance System and Social Security System.
At the Senate, Senator Mark Villar filed Monday his version of the bill.
Though agreeing with Marcos’ statement, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said it’s better not to pursue the measure if it’s not needed.
“Tama naman ang sinabi ni PBBM (President Bongbong Marcos) pero kung wala talagang katwiran, dahilan, at puhunan para sa isang Sovereign Wealth Fund/Maharlika Fund ay mabuting hindi nalang pilitin,” he said in another message.
(PBBM was right but if there is no reason and fund for a Sovereign Wealth Fund/Maharlika Fund, then let’s not force it)
“Kung utang, waldas, at aksaya lamang ang magiging resulta ng Maharlika Fund, wag na nating aksayahan yan ng panahon,” Pimentel added.
(If the Maharlika Fund would just result in debts and wastage, then let’s not waste our time.)
Instead, he advised the government to just concentrate on other pressing issues like food production, high inflation and prices of basic commodities.
“Focus. Prioritize. Concentrate,” Pimentel stressed.
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