Maharlika bill up for Marcos signature; 19 bills on Sona ‘wish list’ pending | Inquirer News
A question of legislative priorities

Maharlika bill up for Marcos signature; 19 bills on Sona ‘wish list’ pending

By: - Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
/ 05:34 AM July 06, 2023

Maharlika bill up for Marcos signature; 19 bills on Sona ‘wish list’ pending

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. delivers his message during the PAF’s 76th Founding Anniversary Celebration at Clark Air Base in Mabalacat, Pampanga. (Photo from the Philippine Air Force)

MANILA, Philippines — Congress has delivered to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. his pet Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill ahead of his second State of the Nation Address (Sona) on July 24 but failed to pass any of the 19 priority measures he had sought from lawmakers during his first Sona last year.

The enrolled copy of the proposed Maharlika Investment Fund Act of 2023 was received by the Office of the Deputy Secretary for Legal Affairs (Odesla) on Tuesday, Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Velicaria Garafil said.


“Odesla is still conducting complete staff work on the bill,” Garafil said on Viber, referring to the MIF bill, which had been certified urgent by the president to allow the Senate and the House of Representatives to pass the measure on time.


In a phone interview with reporters on Wednesday, Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said the president was expected to sign the MIF before his second Sona on July 24.

“The economic team [was] pushing for the signing hopefully before the Sona,” Pangandaman said.


Marcos earlier told reporters he would sign the MIF “as soon as I get it.”

The president had strongly pushed for the Maharlika bill, which was envisioned to tap state assets for investment ventures but had drawn controversy over an initial proposal to use pension funds as the MIF’s seed money.

On May 31, after a marathon session, the Senate passed Senate Bill No. 2020, and the House later agreed to adopt the former’s version even as opposition lawmakers objected to the rushed passage and purported errors in the approved measure.

From first Sona

While Congress succeeded in fulfilling the president’s request to have the MIF bill approved, it failed to deliver the 19 bills he had asked for during his first Sona on July 25, 2022.

Those pending measures are the following:

  • National Government Rightsizing Program
  • Budget modernization bill
  • Tax Package 3: Valuation reform bill
  • Tax Package 4: Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Taxation Act
  • E-Government Act
  • Internet Transaction Act or e-commerce law
  • Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery
  • Medical Reserve Corps
  • National Disease Prevention Management Authority
  • Creation of the Virology Institute of the Philippines
  • Department of Water Resources
  • Unified System of Separation, Retirement and Pension of Military and Uniformed Personnel (MUP)
  • E-Governance Act
  • National Land Use Act
  • National Defense Act
  • Mandatory Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and National Service Training Program (NSTP)
  • Enactment of an Enabling Law for the Natural Gas Industry
  • Amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act or Epira (Republic Act No. 9136)
  • Amendments to the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) law

Except for four bills, including measures on the new water department and on the MUP pension, all the other measures had actually been passed on their third reading by the House but got sidelined in the Senate.

Some House-approved bills include the creation of a Philippines virology institute and a center for disease control and the proposed National Land Use Act.

According to Speaker Martin Romualdez, the House managed to approve 33 out of 42 bills listed as priority measures by Marcos and the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac), a consultative and advisory body to the president.

On Wednesday afternoon, the President again convened Ledac for its second meeting in Malacañang.

Pangandaman said 20 priority bills were endorsed during the meeting, including two bills proposed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

These bills are the following:

  • amendments of the BOT law/public private partnership bill
  • National Disease Prevention Management Authority
  • Internet Transactions Act/e-commerce law
  • Medical Reserve Corps
  • Virology Institute of the Philippines
  • Mandatory ROTC and NSTP
  • Revitalizing the Salt Industry
  • Valuation Reform
  • E-Government/E-Governance Act
  • Ease of Paying Taxes
  • National Government Rightsizing Program
  • Unified System of Separation, Retirement and Pension of MUPs
  • LGU Income Classification
  • Waste-to-energy bill
  • New Philippine Passport Act
  • Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers
  • National Employment Action Plan
  • Amendments to the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act
  • Bank deposits secrecy bill
  • Anti-Financial Account Scamming Act

Nine of these bills were mentioned by the president in his first Sona, including that on the mandatory ROTC and NSTP programs, as well as the proposed e-governance and rightsizing measures.

Pangandaman said the president wanted these 20 bills to be passed by Congress by December this year.

In a statement, Garafil said 18 of the 20 bills were part of the 42 priority legislative measures during the first Ledac meeting in October 2022.

3 new laws

Of the 42 bills, three have been signed into law: RA 11934 or An Act Requiring the Registration of Subscriber Identity Module; RA 11935, or the Postponement of Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections; and RA 11939, or Amendment to AFP Fixed Term had been signed into law.

Garafil said the bills on the Maharlika fund, the Department of Health Specialty Centers Act and New Agrarian Emancipation Act were now awaiting the president’s signature.

On Friday, Marcos is set to sign the New Agrarian Emancipation Act, the bill condoning some P57 billion in debt incurred by land reform beneficiaries.

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Pangandaman said the 20 bills approved by Ledac would be certified as urgent by the president.


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TAGS: 2023 State of the Nation Address, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Maharlika Investment Fund

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