Senate won't rush Maharlika bill, says Zubiri

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 31 2023 07:10 PM

MANILA — Senators will take their time deliberating on the proposed sovereign wealth fund, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said on Tuesday. 

Zubiri said he has instructed Senate banks committee chairman Sen. Mark Villar to "give time to all sectors" during deliberations on the proposed Maharlika Investment Fund. 

“He (Villar) should in other words, huwag niya madaliin ito (should not rush this)… He wants to make sure that there are safeguards in place, so hindi ito pang one hearing lamang, hindi ito pang 2 hearings or 3 hearings,” Zubiri said in a press briefing.
The Senate President added that he urged Villar to hold weekly hearings and craft a committee report before the Senate goes on break by the end of March. 

"That way, we can study the committee report [during the break]," Zubiri said. 

“He (Villar) could either sponsor it before the break or he can sponsor it after we get back after the Holy Week break and have a full debate on the issue... We in the Senate will not rush this measure and will make sure that all points are covered to make sure na wala tayong pagkakamali (we won't have errors)," he added. 

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has called for a swift passage of the proposal, filed by his son and a cousin in the House of Representatives, to enable the debt-laden government to earn extra funds to finance huge infrastructure projects. 

The House passed the proposal in December. The Senate must pass a counterpart bill for the measure to become law.


In the Senate version of the bill, the president will not head the advisory board of the proposed sovereign wealth fund. 
"The president will no longer be involved in this, although the president has the power to remove members of the Board kung may katiwalian or issue ng mismanagement," Zubiri said. 

State banks will provide seed funds and some state assets will also be sold like the Caliraya and Polangi Ports, he added.

"No pension funds will be touched for this endeavor," said the lawmaker. 

A Senate oversight committee will monitor the fund's performance, Zubiri said. 

He gave the updates a day after senators were privately briefed by Marcos' economic managers on the measure. 

The Senate committee on banks will hold a public hearing on the Maharlika fund on Feb. 1, Wednesday. 

“Ang gusto namin tingnan yung bill kung ano talaga ang safeguards kasi ang sabi nila doon: 'We guarantee that safeguards are in place.' Hindi naman nila binanggit kung ano," Zubiri said.

"Yan ang idi-discuss natin bukas sa hearing… malalaman natin kung ano yung mga safeguards, anong criteria para sa hiring of fund management team for the MIF. Ika nga, that's the meat of the issue that will be discussed starting tomorrow," he continued. 

(We want to look at the safegaurds. They said, 'We guarantee that safeguards are in place.' But the specific safeguards were not mentioned. We will discuss that in the hearing tomorrow. We will fund out the safeguards and the criteria for the hiring of the fund management team for the MIF.) 


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