Pimentel vows to oppose Maharlika fund bill: No justification for it


Posted at Mar 27 2023 01:14 PM

MANILA — Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III on Monday vowed to oppose the proposed sovereign wealth fund, which has reached the Senate floor last week.

Sen. Mark Villar has sponsored a revised version of the Maharlika Investment Fund bill at the Senate plenary.

"I will vote against it. I see no justification for the Philippines to put up [an investment fund]," Pimentel told ANC's "Headstart".

The senator warned the public about the MIF, which he said would be given the power to take out loans.

"So mga kababayan, conscious tayo rito. Invest-invest daw. The best of the best daw ang ilalagay diyan para mag-invest invest daw and yet, nilagyan pa rin ng kapangyarihan na humiram ng pera. So anong ibig sabihin nito?" he said.

(Let us be conscious of this. They say it's to invest and that this is the best time to do so, and yet, it was also given the power to borrow money. So what does that mean?)

Under the bill, the proposed source for the initial capitalization of the MIF will include investible funds of Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines.

Pimentel also stressed that the measure was never mentioned by President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr during his campaign in the 2022 elections, first State of the Nation Address and the medium-term fiscal framework debates.

"Saan po nanggaling ito? Sa sama ng panahon sa mundo ngayon, even the investment climate in the world is not at its best form or situation and yet from out of nowhere came this idea of a sovereign wealth fund," he said.

(Where did this come from? Times are bad worldwide, investment climate in the world is not at its best form or situation and yet from out of nowhere came this idea of a sovereign wealth fund.)

Pimentel also criticized the initial version of the measure as "badly-written". 

"In the initial proposal, it was a very badly-written bill... and yet, we’re trying to save it? We’re trying to save an idea, which we do not even know where it came from, and then, there’s no justification for it at all," he said.

The House of Representatives endorsed the proposed law in December but slashed its planned initial capital following public fears of corruption.

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

Business groups, opposition leaders and other critics had warned the fund's first version could deplete worker pensions and stoke corruption through reckless investment decisions.

— With reports from Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News; Agence France-Presse