Maharlika bill now up for Marcos' signature

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 31) — The Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill is now closer to enactment after the House of Representatives officially adopted the Senate version or the latest version of the controversial measure.

With approval from both chambers of Congress, the measure is now up for signing into law by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who has repeatedly endorsed the bill and had certified it as urgent.

The Senate and the House passed the MIF bill six months after it was proposed — and in time before Congress adjourns sine die on Friday, June 2.

In a statement, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda — who also chairs the technical working group on the MIF bill — explained that the House decided to adopt the Senate version so the executive branch can already begin crafting the implementing rules and regulations. Salceda said he expects Marcos to announce his approval of the bill in time for his second State of the Nation Address in July.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri earlier said the House already committed to adopt the Senate version even before the bicameral conference committee – composed of representatives from both chambers – met Wednesday afternoon.

"This was at 10:52 a.m. Good morning, HOR accepts it all. Congratulations and thanks for the trust, wonderful news, Sec. Mina Pangandaman of the DBM,” Zubiri read to reporters.

After seven days of plenary discussions, senators swiftly approved its version of the bill early Wednesday morning — agreeing to ban the use of state pension funds as seed money for the proposed sovereign wealth account.

READ: 'Triumph of the Senate': Zubiri touts Maharlika bill's safeguards

The previous plan to get initial investments from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Social Security System (SSS) was abandoned after earning the ire of several groups, who argued that doing so may put Filipinos' pension funds at risk.

READ: Senate bars investment of state pension funds in Maharlika, okays key changes in bill's final version

READ: Marcos: State pension funds not to be used as seed capital for Maharlika

The latest version of the MIF bill also cut down the number of directors of the Maharlika Investment Corporation board from 15 to 9, and members cannot include those with pending cases relating to fraud, corruption, tax evasion, and other similar offenses.

The penalties for misuse of the Maharlika fund are also more stringent — with imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine of up to ₱10 million.