SSS, GSIS can invest in same projects funded by Maharlika - Villanueva

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 6) — While the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Social Security System (SSS), and some other government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) are prohibited from investing in the Maharlika Investment Corporation, they can invest in the same projects funded by the MIC, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva said Tuesday.

Villanueva, who serves as caretaker of the Senate for two weeks, said it's "legit" for the GOCCs to enter into a joint venture with the MIC -– or fund a project that is also financed by the sovereign wealth fund –- as long as they won’t put money to the Maharlika corporation or the fund it manages.

"May project kunwari itong 'Microphone.' Ito yung 'Power Plant.' Pumasok si MIC sa Power Plant. Si GSIS pumasok din sa Power Plant. Parehas sila pumasok sa Power Plant, nag-joint venture sila. Legit 'yun," explained Villanueva.

"This is Maharlika, hindi papasok si GSIS dito. Sa project, ito, pwede na siyang pumasok dahil may sarili siyang scrutinizing mechanism," he added.

[Translation: For example, 'Microphone' has a project. This is the 'Power Plant.' MIC invests in the Power Plant. GSIS also invests in the Power Plant. They both invested in the Power plant, they did a joint venture. That's legitimate...This is Maharlika and GSIS cannot invest in it. But when it comes to projects, the GSIS can fund them because it has a scrutinizing mechanism.]

Several provisions under the Congress-approved version of the Maharlika Investment Fund bill prohibit GOCCs involved in social security and public health insurance from investing in the MIC and the MIF.

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier said the banned GOCCs can still "subscribe" to the projects of the MIC – a statement that sparked concerns from lawmakers. Villanueva explained there's no such thing as a "Maharlika project" -- only government projects that the MIC or other GOCCs can choose to invest it.

But for Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel, it’s a mere "play on words," which in effect will circumvent the bill once passed into law. His deputy, opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros, stressed that the version pushed by the Senate and adopted by the House of Representatives “orders the absolute prohibition of the use of funds of the GSIS, SSS, PhilHealth and other insurance and pension institutions.”

Villanueva admits it’s “a concern” that there are now various interpretations of the Maharlika bill. He said lawmakers will ensure that the implementing rules and regulations to be crafted by the executive will “adhere to the positions of the members of the Senate.”

"Kahit na po ano ang gawin nila, they cannot deviate from the spirit of the law and the intention of the lawmakers who passed this very important measure. Hindi ho sila in-elect ng taumbayan para mag-debate at amyendahan o palitan o baguhin, dagdagan o bawasan ang batas na ito," he said.

[Translation: No matter what they do, they cannot deviate from the spirit of the law and the intention of the lawmakers who passed this very important measure. They were not elected by the public to debate and amend or change the said law.]

The Maharlika bill is still with the Senate secretariat, nearly a week after it was passed by both houses of Congress. Villanueva said the Senate secretariat is in the process of “cleaning up the bill,” and correcting some typographical and clerical errors.

"I don’t want to glorify yung mga sinasabing minadali or nagkamali. We’re all human beings, during that time it’s already 2:30 a.m., nangyayari yung mga typo errors, nangyayari yung minsan mali yung numero," the Senate Majority leader said.

[Translation: I don't want to glorify the claims that it was rushed or there was a mistake. We're all human beings, during that time, it's already 2:30 a.m. So typographical errors and mistakes with numbers are inevitable.]

The Senate version of the bill was passed in the early morning of Wednesday, May 31. The same version was adopted by the House.

"And that’s the main reason why the bills will have to go through the Senate secretariat and the House of Representatives secretary general to look into it bago dalhin sa Palasyo at maging [before submitting to the Palace and becoming an] enrolled bill."

Villanueva expects the Maharlika bill to be transmitted to the Palace for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s signature within the week.