Senate respects Palace urgency on MIF but debates continue

By Wilnard Bacelonia

May 16, 2023, 9:27 pm

MANILA – The Senate highly respects President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.'s certification of urgency on the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill, Senator Sonny Angara said Tuesday.

Angara said the Senate is awaiting the Supreme Court decision on a petition questioning the "swift" passage by the House of Representatives of its version of the MIF bill last December but recognizes the Palace stamp of urgency.
"Anything that the Supreme Court says we’ll have to abide by that but on this issue of certification of urgency, we take the certification of the Palace at face value. If they say it’s urgent, they are the Executive branch so we have to give respect to that certification," Angara said during an interview with ANC news channel.
Angara said the Senate and Malacañang has a "give and take" partnership considering that senators have their own priority bills that need to be signed into law.
However, he said the Senate is taking its time on scrutinizing the MIF bill since other senators have “strong views” about it.
"We've begun discussions on the bill and I think the committee report reported out by Committee on Banks chair Senator Mark Villar is an improvement on the initial versions of the bill. I think, we're getting a clearer idea of what is the goal, what are the limitations, what are the powers of this," he said.
Senate Bill No. 2020, sponsored by Villar, underwent interpellation in the plenary on Monday.
Senate, House difference
Angara confirmed there will be a lot of contentions on the Senate and House of Representatives’ versions, like the composition of the MIF Board, its powers, safeguards, accountabilities, penalties, and allowable fees; and 25-percent allocation of the Fund to social services.
"I think, that was one of the things that might limit the hands of the managers. Even we have – meron naman tayong national budget for these types of things (we have allocation for this under the national budget), when you need to have some flexibility in investing your funds, then maybe it’s not the wisest to tie the hands of the fund managers. But that’s something that I think will be determined in the coming days," the lawmaker said.
Angara cited safeguards in the measure like the investor limit in which a single entity or individual can own only up to five percent of the Fund.
He said it will prevent the Fund from being unduly influenced by a particular or singular parochial interest and will be spent in wider ray of investments in bonds, stocks, equity, infrastructure projects, among others.
Angara explained that the PHP500-billion MIF will have a paid-up capital of PHP110 billion.
The Land Bank of the Philippines and the national budget will contribute PHP50 billion each and another PHP25 billion will come from the Development Bank of the Philippines.
The earlier versions of the measure provided that the MIF seed fund will come from pension funds.
“The Maharlika Investment Fund, which shall be the country’s first-ever sovereign investment fund, is designed to promote economic development by making strategic and profitable investments in key sectors,” Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno previously said.  “The Fund is an additional vehicle that would allow the government to tap surpluses that cannot be utilized under current legal frameworks. It will also be open to co-financing with foreign investors and multilateral institutions to facilitate financing of capital-intensive big-ticket infrastructure.” (PNA)