Solon seeks recall of 'reengineered' Maharlika Investment Fund

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 23 2023 11:40 AM | Updated as of Jan 23 2023 12:43 PM

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Filipinos receive "ayuda" in the form of cash as government assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/FILE


MANILA - The re-engineered version of the Maharlika Investment Fund must be recalled since the new version was not deliberated in the House of Representatives, Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman said on Monday.

Under the new version unveiled by Rep. Joey Salceda earlier, seed funding would be taken from dividends of GOCCs or the securitization of some P42 billion in dividends. 

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the Development Bank and other "controversial" funding sources were dropped, Salceda said, adding that GOCC dividends were "surplus."

But Lagman pointed out that a 1993 law dictates that 50 percent of GOCC dividends should be remitted to the national treasury to fund socio-economic projects. The other 50 percent must be reinvested into GOCC operations, he said. 

GOCC dividends, therefore, are not surpluses since they are "earmarked" to support the national budget, Lagman said. 

"The income of these corporations should not be sequestered or securitized because they are invariably used to fund the national budget...…Used to help fund the national budget and address directly and immediately the socio-economic needs of the people like health, education, food security, basic infrastructure," he said.

In 2021, remitted GOCC dividends were at P57 to P58 billion. If some P42 billion would be channeled to Maharlika "how much will remain for budgetary support?" Lagman said. He said these funds are used as a "shield" for the poor to survive amidst rising inflation. 

"You are depriving our people of the necessary funding for basic services...Ang apektado yung tao (the people are affected)," he said. 

"That’s why I’m asking we should recall the approval of the bill so the House can deliberate on these re-engineered provisions because it did not pass the House. It was not discussed in the House. It was not deliberated in the House," he said.

Salceda earlier said the re-engineered version was the one introduced to the international community by President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr in Davos, Switzerland during the World Economic Forum.

In terms of the proposed initial public offering (IPO) of the sovereign wealth fund, Lagman said it should not be privatized.

"That fund, which represents the work of the state, should be controlled and owned by the State. It should not be eventually transferred through an IPO subject to subscription to the extent that private sector would control the fund," Lagman said.

Lagman said the bill remains in its "embryonic stage" and shows signs of "hasty legislation."

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