Pimentel urges public to pressure legislators against swiftly passing Maharlika bill

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 29) — Senate Minority leader Koko Pimentel on Monday urged the public to call on lawmakers to ensure a thorough study of the proposed Maharlika Investment Fund bill given the billions of pesos it will involve if passed.

“I appeal to the Filipino people to help us pressure our legislators, including the senators, that at least we should not rush this kind of bill which will involve billions of pesos supposed to be invested or gambled with an assurance of high returns to benefit the present generation and future generation of Filipinos… Give us more time to study the final proposal,” Pimentel told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

On May 25, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said the upper chamber is looking to approve the proposed Maharlika bill this week before Congress adjourns for a two-week break.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has certified the Senate bill as urgent.

The proposed Maharlika Investment Fund is patterned after the sovereign wealth funds in countries like Singapore, China, and Malaysia.

The Makabayan bloc again raised its concerns regarding the bill.

It recently noted that under Senate Bill 2020, funds from the Government Service Insurance System and Social Security System will be used as seed funding for the national investment fund. This was the provision removed by the House when it approved the bill in December after the public expressed its concern on the proposal.

The Makabayan bloc also said the Senate version of the bill seeks to allow foreigners to sit on the board of the Maharlika Investment Corp. which will control the investment fund.

The Senate has yet to release a copy of its version of the bill.

According to Pimentel, the bill has already diverted so much from its original version, thus the need to carefully scrutinize its provisions. Aside from this, the current version of the bill shows it is no longer a sovereign fund, but a corporation established by law for the benefit of private investors, he added.

The original proponents of the bill still have more proposed amendments, which they will be presenting on Monday, Pimentel said.

Pimentel reiterated he does not see the need to rush the approval given the risks it has for the billions of pesos to be injected in the fund. The money to be allocated for it would be better spent on social services that will address the more important issues Filipinos are facing, like inflation, poverty, and hunger, he noted.

READ: Pimentel: Why the rush to pass Maharlika fund bill?