Pimentel wants Maharlika bill back in Congress to fix ‘glaring errors, discrepancies’
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III is urging Congress to recall its approval of the contentious Maharlika Investment Fund bill so it can fix the “glaring errors and discrepancies.”
Pimentel on Thursday said that the “only viable course of action” is to revert the “hastily-approved” MIF bill for reconsideration on the Senate and House floors.
“The consequences of the President signing a bill containing glaring errors can be significant,” he said in a statement.
“Recalling the approval of the MIF and returning it to the floor is the sole remedy left for Congress if it is to correct and clarify the discrepancies and ambiguous provisions in the MIF. There is no shortcut.”
Pimentel, a lawyer, argued that Congress’ permission is needed to rectify the proposed measure.
“The discrepancies and ambiguities found in the approved bill cannot be corrected without the risk of falsification of legislative documents,” he said.
Among the crucial errors in the bill that Pimentel cited were the conflicting provisions on the prescriptive period for crimes.
According to Section 50, the prescription period for the prosecution of crimes and offenses is 10 years, but this differs from Section 51, which sets it at 20 years.
While he maintained that the MIF bill is beyond repair, Pimentel reiterated his warning against leaving the task of perfecting the measure to the Secretariat of both chambers of Congress.
He said this may lead to potential legal issues such as “falsification of legislative documents” if the content of the Congress-approved MIF proposal is changed.
This, Pimentel noted, is an offense under Article 170 of the Revised Penal Code.
The provision states, “The penalty of prison correccional in its maximum period and a fine not exceeding P6,000 shall be imposed upon any person who, without proper authority therefor alters any bill, resolution, or ordinance enacted or approved or pending approval by either House of Legislature or any provincial board or municipal council.”
Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva earlier said the changes being done on the MIF bill by the Secretariat of the Senate and the House of Representatives are not amendments.
“It is more of doing the finishing touches…So there’s no such thing as amending, deleting or adding to what the members of the Senate intend to pass during that particular committee and individual amendments that happened on the floor,” he said.
Villanueva also noted that Senator Mark Villar, the main proponent of the MIF bill in the Senate, had already written to Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri to explain that the prescriptive period for crimes is 10 years, and not 20 years, as agreed upon during the period of amendments.
Members of the media have requested a copy of Villar’s letter. The senator’s office, however, has yet to provide them a copy as it noted that there is no signed letter yet as of June 6.