MANILA — Sen. Imee Marcos and some of her colleagues on Monday raised concerns over the controversial Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill, a measure marked as "urgent" by her brother President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.
“Yung sa akin lang, yung source of funds napaka-importante noon. Kasi ang pagka-intindi ko, nagkakaroon ng sovereign fund kapag nagka-jackpot ang isang bansa... When you get a windfall, that’s usually the beginning of a sovereign fund. Eh I don’t feel any windfall right now, I feel utang,” Marcos remarked.
(The source of funds is very important. A sovereign fund is created when a country hits the jackpot... I don’t feel any windfall right now; I feel debt.)
The senator said she was "nervous" to allow the MIF bill to be passed in its present form.
“Gusto ko lang makita yung formulation tapos siyempre, ako very basic lang eh: Ano talaga ang source of funds? Ikalawa ano ang purpose of the funds? Saan ilalaan?” she said.
"Kasi sinasabi na infrastructure, nagagawa naman yun ng bangko. Sinasabi legacy and agriculture. Nagagawa naman ng NIA yun at saka nangungutang naman tayo para diyan. So ano yung value added?"
(I just want to see the formulation. What is the fund source? Where will it be used. They say it's for infrastructure, but a bank can provide funds for that. They say it's for legacy and agriculture. The NIA does that and we even offer loans for that. So what is the value added?)
The need to fast-track the MIF bill is also questionable for Marcos.
“Ako, kung saka-sakaling minamadali, hindi ako papayag kasi malaking pera yan. Mababaon ang ating mga anak. At hindi dapat minamadali yung ganyan," Marcos said.
(I will not allow it to be rushed because that's such a huge sum of money. Our children will be buried in debt. Something like that should not be rushed.)
The senator issued her pronouncements 2 hours before Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri led a 2 p.m. majority caucus regarding the MIF bill.
But with or without such caucus, the MIF bill is “unsalvageable and beyond repair,” according to Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III.
“After thorough analysis and careful review of Senate Bill No. 2020, I have come to the conclusion that the overall risk is too great that it outweighs whatever the potential benefits of the measure are, if there is any at all,” Pimentel stressed.
“These are difficult economic times.. We need to avoid making hasty decisions that could have long-term consequences,” the Minority Leader added.
Sen. Chiz Escudero meanwhile said MIF bill’s purpose, direction and funding source were “still vague and nebulous.”
“It is not clear even for those pushing for the bill, much less in the bill itself... Haste… (as the saying goes) makes waste. This should serve as a warning to those pushing for it because it might just be struck down and end up in the dumpsters if they proceed with it in a haphazard and nonchalant manner,” he said.
In a press statement, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano announced his intention to deliver a privilege speech about the MIF bill.
The main issue of his speech, according to Cayetano, is whether the MIF is really “gravely needed now.”
“I do not think the issue of Maharlika (Investment Fund) is good or bad. It's really a matter of what's best and the timing,” he said in an interview with reporters on Feb. 14, 2023 when discussions on the MIF had just started.