By Severino C. Samonte

Why I want to give a try to the proposed MIF Act

While going over the newscast of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on its website on June 23, I came across a story written by the wire agency's Senate reporter Wilnard Bacelonia and quoting presidential sister Senator Imee R. Marcos as assuring that Congress has the oversight function that allows it to investigate or even stop the implementation of the proposed Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) Act if it fails.

Following is the gist of the report based on a press briefing conducted by the lady senator after leading the distribution of aid for indigent residents of Alangalang, Dagami, and Albuera towns in Leyte province: "MIF is about to be a law. Let us support the Administration in its implementation. If it fails, we have an oversight function. We can look into it, stop it, or investigate it."

She added that President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. also assured her that the MIF has enough safeguards.

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the MIF will reinforce the Marcos administration's economic goals under the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework and the Eight-Point Socioeconomic Agenda, which has the full backing of Congress.

The President has said he understands the public sentiments against the use of pension funds as seed money for MIF, but he explained that the focus should be on proper management.

“Perhaps, we are looking in the wrong direction. The key to the success of any fund -- a hedge fund, pension fund, sovereign fund, investment fund -- is the management,” Marcos said during the recent 85th anniversary celebration of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Makati City.

On the same occasion, the President said he is ready to sign the MIF bill into law "as soon as I get it."

The fund will help boost the "Build Better More" (BBM) program of the Marcos administration as it will be an additional financing mechanism for capital-intensive infrastructure projects, among others. It will also be used to invest in key sectors, such as agriculture and energy.

However, former Senate President and now Minority Leader Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III is urging the Chief Executive to veto the measure, saying that because of its swift passage, "there is a provision that was tampered with without plenary authority."

Senator Mark A. Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies and principal author and sponsor of the Senate’s version of the Maharlika bill, said the measure will address the need of the State to preserve and use government financial assets to generate optimal returns to support the infrastructure development agenda of the government, as well as to create jobs, promote investments, foster technological transformation, strengthen connectivity, achieve energy, water and food security, and support the government’s poverty reduction efforts.

Back to the presidential sister's statement in Leyte, as I have been in favor of the MIF bill even before its approval by both chambers of Congress, I shared the story from the PNA website to my Facebook friends as well as the general public so that they can also read it.

I even added this comment: "I agree with Senator Imee R. Marcos. We must support the Administration in the implementation of the MIF Act. How can we enjoy its benefits and expected good results if we do not implement it now?"

I was not surprised when I received comments from some friends contradicting my agreeing with Senator Imee's statement. In essence, their objections concerned the possible use of Social Security System (SSS) and Government Service and Insurance System (GSIS) pension funds as part of the seed money for the MIF.

Since I did not wish to engage in debate with my friends over the MIF bill, I just decided to tell them in this column why I am in favor of the proposed law and willing to give it a try.

What I want most about the bill is the expectation that since the MIF could accumulate capital over time, it will provide a long-term source of investment capital for the government. It can also help provide funding for long-term infrastructure projects that promote sustainable development in the country.

For one thing, I am elated to think that with more infrastructure projects undergoing in various regions of the country under the President's "BBM" program, there will be more job opportunities for Filipino workers and their families. And this can ultimately lead to poverty reduction in the country. 


About the Columnist

Image of Severino C. Samonte

He began his journalistic career by contributing to the Liwayway and Bulaklak magazines in the 1960’s. He was the night editor of the Philippine News Service when Martial Law was declared in September 1972. When the Philippine News Agency was organized in March 1973, he was named national news editor because of his news wire service experience.

He retired as executive news editor in 2003. He also served as executive editor of the Malacanang-based Presidential News Desk from 1993 to 1996 and from 2005 to 2008.