Supreme Court junks 'premature' petition vs Maharlika Fund bill

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 12 2023 05:48 PM

The Supreme Court building in Padre Faura, Manila on Aug. 24, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File
The Supreme Court building in Padre Faura, Manila on Aug. 24, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The Supreme Court has dismissed, for being premature, a petition filed by the Makabayan bloc questioning the House of Representatives' supposed swift passage of the Maharlika Investment Fund bill.

The petition, filed in February this year, wanted the Supreme Court to void President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.’s presidential certification of the controversial bill as urgent since there was allegedly no public emergency or calamity to justify the urgency.

The certification allowed the lower House to pass House Bill 6608 on second and third reading on Dec. 15, 2022, even if under the constitution, a bill normally becomes a law only if it passes 3 readings on 3 separate days.

But in a resolution dated Feb. 28, 2023 and received by the Makabayan bloc only on April 25, the high court junked the petition.

“There is no actual case or controversy here, nor is the dispute ripe for adjudication. Colmenares et al.’s mere allegation of the unconstitutionality of the President’s certification of HB 6608 and the passage of the bill by the House are not sufficient to warrant review by the Court,” the Supreme Court en banc said in a 6-page resolution.

“To date, no law has been passed and HB 6608 remains pending with the House for further revisions, eliminating petitioner legislators’ concerns regarding the expedited passage of HB 6608 in the House,” it added.

An actual case or controversy and the ripeness of the petition for adjudication are among the requisites for judicial review which would allow the high court to rule on an issue.

The court said there should have been an accomplished or performed act by either branch of government and the petitioners should have alleged the existence of “an immediate or threatened injury” as a result of the action.


In a motion for reconsideration filed on May 10, Wednesday, the Makabayan bloc insisted there is already an actual case or controversy ripe for adjudication because a constitutional provision had already been violated.

“The Petition is not seeking the invalidation of any law or act of Congress, but rather the exercise by the President of his power under Section 26(2) of the Constitution, and the resulting action by the House of Representatives in acting on a bill in accordance with a defective presidential certification,” it argued.

“By the foregoing consumed and completed actions, the facts are already sufficient to judicially determine whether or not there has been grave abuse of discretion on the part of the President and the lower House in certifying a bill urgent when there is no calamity or emergency being addressed,” it added.

Petitioners also refuted the high court’s statement that HB 6608 is pending in the House for revisions, as it had already passed the third reading and had been transmitted to the Senate.

The petitioners include Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares, former Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro, Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas, and Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel.

Respondents included President Marcos, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, and the House of Representatives.

President Marcos recently approved the Maharlika Investment Fund bill among his priority legislative measures in the Senate by including it in the priority bills of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC).

The measure became controversial when it initially sought to draw billions of pesos in funding from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System (SSS), with pensioners fearing for their retirement funds.

It was later amended to source the funds from the Landbank, the Development Bank of the Philippines, and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Critics called into question the necessity of a sovereign wealth fund, pointing out that in other countries, this involves savings or excess funds while the Philippines is operating on deficit spending and has trillions of debt.

But proponents argue the fund is a tried and tested investment vehicle and will be used to fund big-ticket infrastructure projects.

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