Imee Marcos, Escudero: Passing Maharlika bill shouldn’t be done in haste
MANILA, Philippines — Senators Imee Marcos and Francis Escudero on Monday said there is a need to first iron out the still-unclear provisions of the Maharlika Investment Fund bill before pushing for its immediate passage.
Sen. Marcos said she is not against the proposed MIF, which has since been certified as urgent by her brother, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
She, however, said that there are things about the bill that are “still left in the air.”
Sen. Marcos noted that the Senate has yet to see the final form of the MIF bill with amendments from the Department of Finance and the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions, and currencies.
“Ako – kung saka-sakaling minamadali, hindi ako papayag kasi malaking pera yan. Mababaon ang ating mga anak [sa utang]. At hindi dapat minamadali iyong ganyan,” she told reporters at the Senate.
(For me, I will not allow it to be rushed because it involves a large amount of money. Our children will be buried in debt. And things like this should not be done in haste.)
The lawmaker said she was “nervous” if the MIF bill be passed in its current form. She also sought to clarify how the MIF would be funded.
“Kasi ang pagkaintindi ko, nagkakaroon ng sovereign fund kapag naka-jackpot ang isang bansa…When you get a windfall, that’s usually the beginning of a sovereign wealth fund. I don’t feel any windfall right now. I feel utang,” she added.
(In my understanding, a sovereign wealth fund is created if a country hits the jackpot…When you get a windfall, that’s usually the beginning of a sovereign wealth fund. I don’t feel any windfall right now. I feel debt.)
Marcos further questioned the “added value” of establishing an MIF.
“Kasi sinasabi na infrastructure, nagagawa naman iyon nga bangko. Sinasabi, legacy ang agriculture. Nagagawa naman ng National Irrigation Administration (NIA) at saka nangungutang naman tayo para diyan,” she argued.
(They say it’s for infrastructure, but that can be done by our banks. They say it’s for legacy and agriculture, but that’s being done by the NIA and we also borrow money for those projects.)
Escudero meantime stressed that the purpose and reason for creating the MIF remain “vague and nebulous.”
“It is not clear even for those pushing for the bill, much less in the bill itself,” he said in a separate interview with the media.
Escudero said the economic team behind the MIF bill has yet to receive an actual test of economic viability for the Maharlika Investment Corporation.
Under the 1987 Constitution, “Government-owned or controlled corporations may be created or established by special charters in the interest of the common good and subject to the test of economic viability.”
Escudero agrees that economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is a matter of urgency but, he said, there is no apparent reason to pass the MIF bill before Congress goes on sine die adjournment on June 2.
“Haste…as the saying goes, makes waste. This should serve as a warning to those pushing for it because it might just be struck down and end up in the dumpsters if they proceed with it in a haphazard and nonchalant manner,” he said.
Earlier, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III – a staunch critic of the MIF bill – deemed the proposal “unsalvageable and beyond repair.”
The Senate is eyeing to pass the MIF bill this week after it was certified as urgent by Marcos. This allows the chamber to pass the measure on the second and third reading in one day.
In December 2022, Marcos similarly marked as urgent the House of Representatives’ MIF bill, allowing for it to be approved by the chamber less than a month after it was filed.
The proposed measure has since been tweaked in the Senate and is still being scrutinized by lawmakers during the period of interpellations.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri had also called on the House to adopt the upper chamber’s version of the MIF bill.
Should this be the bill’s direction, Congress can raise the measure to Marcos for his approval instead of calling for a bicameral conference committee to first reconcile the disagreeing provisions of the chambers’ versions of the bill.