Maharlika’s success depends on capable, incorruptible managers — Marcos | Inquirer News

Maharlika’s success depends on capable, incorruptible managers — Marcos

Maharlika’s success depends on capable and incorruptible managers–Marcos

DONE IN JUST 6 MONTHS Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri poses with other lawmakers and members of the economic team after the Senate’s marathon session in May that ended with the passage of Senate Bill No. 2020 creating the Maharlika Investment Fund. The bill, introduced in the House in November last year, is expected to be signed into law by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. before his second State of the Nation Address on July 24. —SENATE PRIB

President Bongbong Marcos on Thursday said the “secret to the success” of the proposed Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) was an incorruptible, independent and competent management group that would ensure that billions of pesos of the people’s money would not be lost.

He told reporters in Makati City that Malacañang would scrutinize revisions in the MIF bill, but promised to enact the measure approved by Congress on May 31.


“I will sign it as soon as I get it,” Mr. Marcos said. “Am I happy? Well, that is the version that the House and the Senate have passed, and we will certainly look into all of the changes that have been made.”


He said most of the changes in the bill that were adopted concerned the “safety and security of people’s pension funds.”

On Wednesday, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri signed the “corrected” version of the bill at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC where he was on an official visit.

After House Speaker Martin Romualdez signs it, the enrolled copy of the bill will be sent to Malacañang.

READ: Koko: OK’d Maharlika bill may not be what Marcos envisioned

The MIF, a sovereign wealth fund, will draw resources primarily from state-run Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

Its initial fund, according to the bill, will total P125 billion—P25 billion from DBP, P50 billion from LBP, and P50 from the national government.


Professionally managed

The MIF will be established by the government “by investing national funds, and coordinating and strengthening the investment activities of the country’s top-performing government financial institutions to promote economic growth and social development.”

The fund would be managed by the board of directors of a new state corporation that would be established and called the Maharlika Investment Corp. (MIC).

“But the secret to its success is who do we put in management?” Mr. Marcos told reporters. “What is their experience? What is their reputation? What is their success rate? And we have quite a few good money managers, financial managers there that we can call upon.”

According to him, it was important that the MIF be operated “as an independent fund” that would be “well managed professionally.”

“The only way to make sure that we do not get into trouble, the fund does not get into trouble, is that it’s well and professionally managed,” he said.

“If you put someone there who is corrupt, then he will be corrupt. The money will be lost. If you put someone competent, the fund will grow and we can use that fund,” he added.

The President acknowledged concerns about possible corruption and mismanagement of the fund. “All of these things can happen,” he said.

READ: ‘Maharlika Fund listing to boost transparency’

He pointed out that one of the first changes he proposed to the House was to remove the President, the central bank chief and the finance secretary from the MIC board “because it has to operate as an independent fund.”

“And so, one of the elements that makes that happen is that there is a very clear independence from the day-to-day government function,” he said.

“Those decisions are not made by political decisions in government. The decisions made for the fund are made by finance professionals,” he added.

The Senate bill, however, still included the finance secretary, who will serve as ex-officio board chair of the MIC.

Senators opposed to the bill slammed the manner in which the so-called “corrections” to the bill signed by Zubiri were made.

Villar clarification

Senate secretary Renato Bantug on Wednesday told reporters that the Senate secretariat reconciled provisions concerning 10-year and 20-year prescriptions of offenses under just one section instead of two, as clarified in a letter by Sen. Mark Villar.

Villar heads the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions, and currencies, and he is also the bill’s main sponsor.

Bantug said they also based their final revision on the transcript of the Senate session early in the morning of May 31, audio recordings, and YouTube videos.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III warned that the revisions made on Senate Bill No. 2020 put the “integrity and constitutionality” of the measure in question as it was “tampered without proper plenary authority.”

Under the 1987 Constitution, no amendment to an approved bill shall be allowed after it has been approved by both Houses of Congress.

“Today marks a sad day for the 108th Senate, which has stood strong for over a century as the guardian of our Constitution and the rule of law,” said Pimentel, a former Senate President.

“The Constitution, the cornerstone of our nation, is no longer being read and followed. Our rules have been rendered meaningless and worthless,” he added.

Pimentel reiterated his call on Mr. Marcos to veto the Maharlika bill “to prevent a national embarrassment.”

‘Tyranny of numbers’

Sen. Risa Hontiveros said that “above and beyond the specific technical issue, what this speaks volumes about is the inordinate rush to pass a bill just to acquiesce to the wishes of the Executive.”

“In their rush to pass it, they made a lot of sloppy bungles,” Hontiveros said, referring to her majority colleagues.

Pimentel was dismayed by the majority senators’ “tyranny of numbers” that “does what it wants to do, railroading and bulldozing all legal concepts and regulations out of the way.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda defended the Senate leadership’s actions to hasten the approval of the proposed MIF law, saying that “all we had to do was to follow the transcripts of the sessions which will show that there were no debates pertaining to (the prescriptions on offenses).”

Members of the Makabayan bloc in the House on Thursday urged Zubiri to retract his approval of the “corrected” MIF bill which they said was “legislated by Viber.”

“This bill is nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to push for legislation via Viber groups, which is unconstitutional and a blatant disregard for the democratic process,” Makabayan said.

Zubiri earlier said that the corrections in the MIF bill were “thoroughly discussed by the majority bloc in our Viber group,” including Villar’s letter.

“How can this be? Last time we checked, the Constitution does not allow legislation by Viber,” said the bloc, which includes ACT Teachers party list Rep. France Castro, Gabriela women’s party list Rep. Arlene Brosas and Kabataan party list Rep. Raoul Manuel.

“This makes a mockery of the constitutional requirement of transparency when the legislature deliberates on and approves laws,” it said. “This is unacceptable and goes against the principles of transparency and accountability that our democracy is built upon.”

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TAGS: Maharlika, Maharlika Investment Fund, Marcos

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