‘Triumph of the Senate:’ Zubiri says Maharlika bill can stand judicial scrutiny test, cites robust safeguards
MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri hailed the passage of the Maharlika Investment Fund bill as a “triumph,” expressing optimism in its constitutional soundness due to strong safeguards, even if challenged in the Supreme Court.
The bill is now up for ratification by both chambers of Congress after the House of Representatives adopted on Wednesday the Senate version of the measure.
Once ratified by Congress, it will be transmitted to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos for signature.
“For me, it’s a triumph of the Senate because we improved the House version tremendously, and we thank the House for accepting the Senate version with all the safeguards,” Zubiri told reporters in an interview at the Senate.
“Pwede po nating ipaglaban ito sa Plaza Miranda kasi sa dami ng safeguards,” he said, pointing out that even the minority bloc in the Senate was “very happy” since almost all possible safeguards were placed in the bill.
(We can fight for this in Plaza Miranda because of the numerous safeguards.)
It was also “explicitly stated twice” in the measure that funds from the Social Security System, Government Service Insurance System, Philippine Health Insurance Corp., Home Development Mutual Fund, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, and the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office would not be used for the Maharlika fund, the Senate leader stressed.
Despite this, Zubiri did not discount the possibility that questions would be raised before the high tribunal.
“Alam mo lahat naman ng batas namin may nagk- question paminsan minsan sa Supreme Court. I’m sure people will raise it but I’m sure we can stand the test of judicial scrutiny by the Supreme Court,” he said.
The bill was unanimously approved in the Senate early Wednesday morning, with 19 senators voting for it, with only opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros voting against it. Senator Nancy Binay abstained from voting.
Three senators were absent during the voting — Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Imee Marcos, and Francis Escudero.