'So much distrust naman': Diokno defends Maharlika from UP economists


Posted at Jun 07 2023 07:11 PM

MANILA - Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Wednesday again defended the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) after several professors from the UP School of Economics (UPSE) released a paper saying the MIF was still flawed. 

Faculty members of the UPSE on Tuesday published a paper titled ‘Maharlika Investment Fund: Still Beyond Repair’ which called on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. “to seriously reconsider” signing the MIF bill. 

The economists, which included former National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Ernesto Pernia, also called on Marcos to “present before the public a clear and solid rationale for setting it up in the first place.”

“We find that the MIF violates fundamental principles of economics and finance and poses serious risks to the economy and the public sector — notwithstanding its proponents’ good intentions,” the economists said.

Diokno, who is also Professor Emeritus of the UPSE, however, told reporters that there will be no more reconsideration of the MIF.

“Parang so much distrust naman. Ang dami namang nilagay na safeguard ng Senado,” Diokno said on the sidelines of the International Franchise Expo in Pasay City. 

(It’s like there’s so much distrust. The Senate has already put in so many safeguards.)

Diokno also said that he was not aware of his colleagues had published a discussion paper criticizing the MIF.

“No, I understand, medyo late na nga ‘yon. Tapos na nga, para que pa ‘yon? Kumbaga tapos na ang boxing. Nililinis na lang ‘yong bill and then it will reach the president’s desk siguro in 2 weeks,” Diokno said.

UPSE Assistant Professor Jan Carlo Punongbayan meanwhile said despite the hearings on the MIF bill, there were no proper consultations on the measure.

“Ang sinu-suggest ng iba, siguro magandang i-veto muna o i-reject muna ng Pangulo iyong bill na ito para mahayaan iyong Kongreso na mas mapag-usapan pa at mas mabusisi pa iyong mga probisyon. Sumasang-ayon kami doon - marami sa amin - dahil sa tingin namin ay hindi nagkaroon ng maayos na konsultasyon pagdating dito sa pagsusulat ng Maharlika Investment Fund bill,” Punongbayan said. 

(What the others are suggesting is that the President reject or veto the bill for now to allow Congress more time to discuss and scrutinize the provisions. We agree with that because, in our view, there were no proper consultations done in the drafting of the MIF bill.)

The UPSE economists also called on “former and present colleagues who are now part of the Marcos economic team to reconsider their position on Maharlika and advise the President accordingly.”

Besides Diokno, other members of the Marcos economic team who also came from the UPSE include NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Felipe Medalla. 

“Siguro meron pang tsansa iyong mga economic managers sana niya, mga dating propesor din ng UP School of Economics ay sana mas mabigyan pa siya ng maayos na advice,” Punongbayan said. 

(Maybe the economic managers, who are former professors of the UPSE, still have a chance to properly advise Marcos.)


Diokno meanwhile reiterated that government infrastructure programs could be given a boost in funding through investments in the MIF. 

“Kung matuloy Public Private Participation and with the MIF, baka umabot pa tayo 10 to 12 percent [share of GDP] per year. We have to interconnect the whole country,” Diokno said.

Diokno believes this can be done as early as next year once MIF becomes operational. 

Philippine Franchise Association President Chris Lim said he believes MIF will be good for business if it will be used to interconnect regions.

“When it comes to Maharlika Investment, if it will invest in a lot of infrastructure, it helps because what we want in franchising is decentralization, not everything is just in the city center. And of course, with better infrastructures, better investments everywhere, we want a lot of our kababayans to open franchises back in their province,” Lim said.

PFA Vice Chairman Bing Limjoco added that fundings for MSMEs should also be taken into consideration.

“They said there will be more funding for the micro and small businesses and we are looking forward to that program… It is of ultimate importance to have funding without collateral,” Limjoco said.

Senator Joel Villanueva, one of the proponents of the MIF bill, however clarified earlier that the fund will focus on big ticket items and not MSMEs. 

With reports from Lady Vicencio and Arra Perez, ABS-CBN News


Watch more News on iWantTFC