Maharlika Investment Fund Bill Gets Senate Support

By: Jullian Ortanez
May 31, 2023

Senator Risa Hontiveros seen in an intense debate over the Maharlika Investment Fund. Photo courtesy of PhilStar Global.

The Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) Bill, introduced by Sen. Mark Villar, continues to face objections in the Senate after its approval for the third and final reading on Tuesday, May 30, with the opposition senators pointing out its risks and questioning the push of the bill in the Senate. 

The bill received 19 affirmatives, 1 negative, and 1 abstention in the senate vote. 

The MIF, which aims to utilize a sovereign fund for investment appropriation, has undergone major revisions and amendments in its period of scrutiny within congress. Its former version intended for Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs), such as Social Security System (SSS), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), PAGIBIG and Government Financial Institutions (GFIs) such as Landbank, and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) to be the primary sources for the fund. 

The Senate has adopted the amendments proposed by Sen. Raffy Tulfo to exclude GOCCs from the bill. However, Senate Minority Leader Sen. Coco Pimentel pointed out the bill allows for “voluntary investments” from GOCCs, suggesting the inclusion of an “iron-clad” provision prohibiting their involvement. He added that such provisions raise serious concern over the country’s pension system. 

Deputy Minority Leader Sen. Risa Hontiveros weighed in on Sen. Pimentel’s contentions, pointing out the provision within MIF allows GOCCs to invest despite the amendment of the bill. Hontiveros also criticized the apparent rush in the passage of the bill, which she claimed is too “convoluted and vague” to justify. 

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva refuted the opposition, claiming that three months had been dedicated to the scrutiny of the bill’s content. 

Sen. Mark Villar moved to suspend the period of interpellation, prompting the senators to vote. This resulted in a two vs eleven (2/11) poll with the supermajority backing Villar’s motion. He added he has extensively answered the questions raised by the opposition and is welcome to amendments recommended by  other senators. 

Sen. Coco Pimentel also appealed to the public, calling for further inquiry on the bill. “I appeal to the Filipino people to help us pressure our legislators, including the senators, that at least we should not rush this kind of bill which will involve billions of pesos supposed to be invested or gamble,” Pimentel says. 

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri expressed the willingness of the upper chamber to pass the Senate version of MIF, adding the bill would probably be passed before the two-week legislative break. 

The bill was certified as urgent by President BongBong Marcos last May 22.