Certified as urgent, Maharlika bill may get Senate approval next week — Zubiri
MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri on Thursday said the chamber plans to approve the controversial Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill next week after it received a boost through President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s certification of the measure as urgent.
With Marcos tagging the MIF bill as high-priority, the Senate may forgo the required three-day period between the second and third reading of bills.
This would, in effect, allow the Senate to approve the MIF bill on the second and third reading all on the same day.
“The plan is to approve it [on] second and third reading by next week. We are accommodating the last few members who want to interpellate on Monday, then we can open the period of amendments immediately after,” Zubiri told reporters in a message.
He also called on the House of Representatives, who passed a different version of the proposed measure last year, to yield to the Senate’s MIF bill.
“Hopefully, the House can adopt our version, which we improved with more safeguards in place to avoid possible misuse,” Zubiri added.
If the House adopts the Senate’s version of the proposed MIF, Congress can elevate it to the President sans the need for a bicameral conference committee to reconcile the differences between the chambers’ versions of the measure.
Among the lawmakers who are set to interpellate and scrutinize the MIF bill on Monday are Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III and Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros – both vocal critics of the proposed measure.
Senator Francis Escudero, meanwhile, said he will “await a clean copy” of the final version of the Senate bill with amendments that have yet to be embedded by the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions, and currencies.
Senator Mark Villar, known Marcos ally and main proponent of the MIF bill in the upper chamber, chairs the Senate panel.
Marcos tagged as urgent the Senate’s MIF bill last May 22, in a letter addressed to Zubiri.
He cited inflation, consequences of the Ukraine-Russia war on prices of fuel and crude oil, and global interest rate hikes as grounds for issuing the certification.
“There is a compelling need for a sustainable national investment fund as a new growth catalyst to accelerate the implementation of strategic and high-impact large infrastructure projects that will stimulate activity and development,” Marcos said.
Last December, Marcos likewise certified as urgent the MIF bill in the House, allowing for it to be approved less than a month after presidential cousin Speaker Martin Romualdez and other lawmakers filed the bill.