Fight vs Maharlika fund reaches SC

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 18) — Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel, former Bayan Muna party-list Representatives Neri Colmenares, Carlos Zarate, and Ferdinand Gaite have asked the Supreme Court to declare the entire Republic Act 11954 or the Maharlika Investment Fund Act of 2023 unconstitutional.

They also want the law’s implementation stopped upon the filing of the petition and set the case for oral arguments.

Petitioners argued that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s exercise of the power to certify the Maharlika bill as urgent in the House and Senate was void for failure to meet constitutional requirements.

“Maharlika Investment Fund Act of 2023 is void for failing to comply with the requirements under Article VI, Section 26 (2) of the 1987 Constitution, which requires three readings on three separate days prior to a bill becoming a law,” they said in their petition.

They noted there exists no public calamity or public emergency.

“Should we allow the certification of a bill on the ground that ‘it is certified to address poverty through the creation of additional jobs,’ then hundreds of economic bills or bills with similar intentions can be certified as urgent and simply shortcut legislative proceedings. The ‘three separate reading in three separate days’ rule will now be an exception,” they pointed out.

They asserted that the House of Representatives and the Senate violated the “no amendment” clause of Section 26 (2), Article VI of the Constitution.

House Bill 6608 was approved on third and final reading on December 15, 2022 but petitioners said the House amended the bill on May 31, 2023 “not on the basis of a bicameral conference report but on the mere motion of Rep. Mikaela Suansing.”

On the other hand, they said the Senate amended an already approved bill and submitted to the President a version of Senate Bill 2020 which is different from the Senate approved bill.

Petitioners noted the Senate records would disclose that substantial and lengthy amendments to SB 2020 were introduced and approved by the Senate, but were not incorporated in the printed text sent to and signed by the President.

“This being so, that bill embodied in the Enrolled Bill, was not duly enacted and therefore such did not become law as R.A. 11954,” they added.

They also argued that the establishment of the Maharlika Investment Fund, as a government owned or controlled corporation, failed to satisfy the test of economic viability as mandated under Section 16 of Article XII of the 1987 Constitution.

The law, they said, also violates the independence of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas as a central monetary authority as provided under Section 20, Article XII of the Constitution.

“More importantly, the supposedly independent Monetary Board has to curry favor from the President and ask for his approval should they believe that their fiscal, as well as the economic conditions, merit the reduction of their contribution. The Monetary Board, therefore, despite its power to determine its policies, is now subjected by the law, to the discretion of the President,” petitioners said.

Reacting to this development, Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said this was “expected in view of the public interest generated by the creation of the Maharlika fund.”

“The OSG has been keenly following the public debates about the fund to determine what legal issues of transcendental importance, if any, may be raised before the Supreme Court,” he said.