Veto ‘tampered’ MIF bill, Pimentel urges Marcos
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III appealed to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s “patriotism” on Sunday and urged him to veto the “tampered” Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill.
“It will be a patriotic act for the president,” Pimentel said in a radio interview. “It will improve the president’s political capital and goodwill because it will show that he is objective in making decisions.”
He said Marcos had all the reasons to veto the bill, because the measure that lawmakers approved on May 31 was not the same as the president’s original proposal.
He insisted that Sections 50 and 51 of Senate Bill No. 2020 were tampered with because they had contrasting prescription periods for the prosecution of crimes under the proposed law.
But, Pimentel said, only elected senators are allowed to introduce changes in a measure brought for plenary deliberations and the law prohibits “falsification of legislative documents,” such as changing the contents of a bill that the Senate had already approved on third and final reading.
“By vetoing it, he will be giving us more time [to study the measure] and for the people to weigh in on this matter,” Pimentel said.
However, a veto appeared unlikely as the president had already said he would sign the measure, which he certified as urgent and even promoted the fund at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January.
Officials also appear to be intent on implementing the measure and have been actively promoting the MIF to ease public doubts.
The latest official to join the promotional blitz was National Treasurer Rosalia de Leon, who said on Saturday that there were enough “safety nets” in the measure to ensure transparency and guard against mismanagement.
Aside from the joint congressional oversight committee and the Commission on Audit, De Leon said the Maharlika Investment Corp., the company that will manage the MIF, will be required to undergo the usual corporate financial auditing requirements.
She said that even countries with no current account surplus such as Indonesia, India, and Vietnam, have established sovereign wealth funds to strengthen and support their priority development projects. Indonesia, which is operating on a fiscal deficit like the Philippines, set up a sovereign fund through the Indonesia Investment Authority that was funded with $2 billion in cash and $3 billion in asset transfers.
According to its proponents, the MIF will be used to invest in a wide range of assets, including foreign currencies, fixed-income instruments, domestic and foreign corporate bonds, commercial real estate and infrastructure projects.
The MIF is also intended as a vehicle for economic growth, which is aligned with the administration’s Medium-Term Fiscal Framework and 8-point Socio-Economic Agenda.