Senators vow to scrutinize Maharlika bill

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 16 2022 04:56 PM

MANILA -- Hours after President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. certified as urgent the proposed Maharlika Investment Fund bill, at least four senators vowed to scrutinize the measure.

Presidential sister Senator Imee Marcos in interview Friday said "we will deal with it when in gets to the Senate."

Commenting at this point, she said, would be difficult because of the many amendments applied to the bill.

Marcos believes the Senate will scrutinize the measure with the "panel" earlier set up by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri.

Marcos was referring to the special panel composed of Senators Sonny Angara (committee on finance chairman), Alan Peter Cayetano (government corporation and public enterprises committee chairman), Sherwin Gatchalian (ways and means committee chairman), Grace Poe (economic affairs committee chairperson) and Mark Villar (banks, financial institutions and currencies committee chairman).

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III likewise stressed the need to fully examine the Maharlika bill because of the sensitivity of its nature.

"We have to make sure that the Maharlika Fund Bill will be thoroughly discussed in the Senate. We have to examine everything in the said bill. Even the commas, semicolons; and periods," Pimentel said in a text statement.

"Haste makes waste. That applies to both the bill and the funds that may be managed by the entity created by the rushed bill," he added.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros meantime hinted her surprise by the President's decision to certify the Maharlika bill as urgent, resulting to its swift third reading approval in the House of Representatives.

"Eh kung ang gawin munang urgent kaya ay ang pagbaba ng presyo ng pagkain para may disenteng Noche Buena, ang pagtaas ng sweldo ng mga manggagawa lalo ang mga teacher at health workers, at ang ayuda sa matatanda, solo parents at mga may kapansanan?" Hontiveros remarked.

"This Maharlika wealth fund is premature, and a misplaced priority. Distracted na naman tayo," she added. 

Hontiveros reminded everyone the "economy is already hurting now."

"Our economy is already hurting now, imagine the world of pain we'll be in if we rush head first into a P250-billion mistake," Hontiveros stressed.

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva assured the public that senators will spend the Christmas session break by also studying the bill in preparation to hearings and eventual debate about the measure.

"I am in support of the idea of establishing a sovereign investment fund, but further discussions are needed in the Senate to ensure that the fund will be managed properly with transparency and accountability," Villanueva, in a text statement said.