‘We have to get it right’: Marcos wants Senate to scrutinize Maharlika bill

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 23) — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has asked senators to take their time and carefully review the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill, even if he prefers the measure to quickly sail through the Upper House.

“Suriin ninyong mabuti. Mas maganda na matapos sa lalong madaling panahon pero hindi naman dapat imadali dahil napakaimportante ng bawat salita na ilalagay sa batas na yun,” Marcos said in an interview on Monday.

[Translation: Check it carefully. It is better to finish as soon as possible but it should not be rushed because every word that will be put in that law is very important.]

According to Marcos, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri has announced the possibility of Senate deliberations on the MIF bill to be over by the Holy Week or the first week of April.

“That would be good, but sa akin, mas importante na maging tama kaysa maging mabilis [That would be good, but to me, it's more important to be right than to be quick]. We have to get it right. Getting it wrong would be a very bad mistake,” Marcos said.

The House of Representatives passed the measure on third and final reading in December, while government representatives touted the fund at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland last week.

Senator Mark Villar filed the Senate version of the Maharlika Investment Fund bill, or Senate Bill 1670, on Jan. 12. 

The Senate bill still includes the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas as a funding source for the MIF, which was supposedly removed in the version “re-engineered” by a four-man panel headed by Albay Rep. Joey Salceda.

Money laundering concerns

In the interview, Marcos also addressed concerns about the MIF becoming a money laundering tool.

“The worry about the fund being used as a money laundering device implies that private monies will be put into the fund. Yes, private monies will be put into the fund but it’s not a savings account that you just put there and stays there,” Marcos explained.

According to Marcos, the only time money will enter or leave the fund is when it is necessary to invest in a certain partnership or program.

“On our end, we will only deploy funds when there’s a specific project to be paid for so money laundering does not come in,” he said.