Maharlika fund board overhauled; President won't be chairman

The President of the Philippines will no longer become chairman of the board of directors of the proposed Maharlika Wealth Fund (MWF).

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. (Noel Pabalate/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Instead, the Department of Finance (DOF) secretary will sit as chairman of the board that will oversee the use of the controversial Philippine sovereign wealth fund.

This key ammendment to the proposed MWF measure, as contained in the unnumbered bill tackled by the House Committee on Appropriations, was approved Friday, Dec. 9 during a public hearing of the panel.

Marikina City 2nd district Rep. Stella Quimbo, an author of the proposed MWF and senior vice chairperson of the appropriations committee, made the motion to change the composition of the board of directors.

A controversial piece of legislation since the day it was first filed in the current 19th Congress, the proposed MWF pools investible funds from different government financial institutions. Profits from these funds would then be used to bankroll major government projects, the type that are either underfunded or not funded at all by the annual national budget.

The chairman of the MWF Corporation or MWFC, which House Bill (HB) No.6398 has identified as the President of the Philippines, has been a major point of contention.

HB No.6398 represents the initial filing of the MWF and is the precursor of the unnumbered bill.

During the Friday hearing, Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Northern Samar 1st district Rep. Paul Daza commented that it was a good move to change the overhaul the members of the board of directors, starting from the top.

“My personal opinion is we should layer and shelter the President because it’s a no win situation for the President to chair such a board,” Daza said.

Here's the new composition of the 15-member board as approved by the appropriations panel:

- Chairman of the MWFC – DOF secretary

- Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the MWFC

- LBP president

- DBP president

- Seven regular members representing the fund contributors, and

- Four independent directors from the private sector.