The proposed Maharlika Investment Fund's (MIF) history in the current 19th Congress, particularly in the House of Representatives, has been short but not so simple.
Branded as a "vehicle for investments" by its proponents, the planned Philippine sovereign wealth fund arguably started out on the wrong foot by naming pension agencies the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Social Security System (SSS) as among the contributors or fund sources of the MIF.
This turned the MIF into an emotional issue right out of the gate, given how much the common Filipino hinges his or her future on that precious pension down the road. Public perceptions notwithstanding, the House appears bent on moving the measure forward.
But before that, let's backtrack a bit and take a look at the MIF's beginnings (click hyperlinks for more context):
Nov. 28-- House Bill (HB) No.6398 or the proposed Act establishing the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) is filed. On the same day, it is referred to the Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries.
Its main authors are House Speaker and Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez, Majority Leader and Zamboanga City 2nd district Rep. Mannix Dalipe, Senior Deputy Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte 1st district Rep. Sandro Marcos, Committee on Accounts Chairperson and Tingog Party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez, Deputy Majority Leader and Tingog Party-list Rep. Jude Acidre, and Committee on Appropriations Senior Vice Chairperson and Marikina City 2nd district Rep. Stella Quimbo.
Nov. 29-- HB No.6398 is heard by the banks and financial intermediaries panel a day after it was filed. The panel is chaired by Manila 5th district Rep. Irwin Tieng. Under the bill, the seed money for MIF is P250 billion.
Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Northern Samar 1st district Rep. Paul Daza, a critic of the measure, pleads to the panel not to approve it yet so that it can be discussed further in detail. He gets his way and another hearing is scheduled on Dec. 1.
Dec. 1-- HB No.6398 gets approved at the committee level. The hearing mostly featured panel vice chairman and Albay 2nd district Rep. Joey Salceda making enhancements to the measure in his capacity as technical working group (TWG) chairman.
The MIF officially gets renamed to the Maharlika Wealth Fund (MWF) to avoid confusion with a similarly-named fund in Singapore. Curiously, Rep. Marcos continous to refer to the bill as MIF.
The seed money for the proposed sovereign wealth fund also gets bumped up to P275 billion.
In a statement later that day, Salceda bared that the target is to approve the MWF bill on second reading by Dec. 12, just two days before the House goes on a five-week holiday break.
Dec. 5-- Rep. Marcos denies allegations that the MWF was being "railroaded" by the House. The presidential son said the bill went through a process.
Later that day, the Committee on Ways and Means, chaired by Salceda, approves the tax provisions of HB No.6398, something he promised he would do.
Now, the measure only needs to get its funding provision approved by the Committee on Appropriations before its mother committee, the Tieng panel, can endorse it for plenary approval.
As these developed in the House, public concerns over the proposed tapping of pension funds under the GSIS and SSS in a perceived risky investment venture continue to mount.
Dec. 8-- Quimbo, in an impromptu press conference, announces plans of the House leadership to to remove the GSIS and SSS as fund sources for the MWF. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) or Philippine central bank will take their place.
She admits that the move is meant to lessen opposition to the MWF.
Dec. 9-- The Committee on Appropriations, chaired by Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Zaldy Co, approves the funding provision of the MWF, which is now represented by an unnumbered bill.
The panel, through a motion by Quimbo, essentially accepts a proposal from the BSP to funnel its annual declared dividends to the MWF. However, since their dividends are profit-based, the BSP's contributions won't be fixed.
Should the MWF get enacted in 2023, the projected contributions of the BSP will be at least P30 billion. In contrast, the GSIS and SSS were supposed to cough up P125 billion and P50 billion, respectively, as seed money for the investment fund.
The composition of the proposed board of directors of the MWF was also overhauled, with the biggest change being that the President of the Philippines will no longer sit as chairman of the board. Instead, the Department of Finance (DOF) will become chairman.
Dec. 10-- Independent minority solon and Liberal Party (LP) President Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay's 1st district says the MWF chairman should come from the private sector. He noted that having an alter ego of the President as chairman of the board wouldn't make any difference.
(Updates as of Dec. 15)
Dec. 12--Tieng reveals to reporters that the MWF will revert to its original name of MIF. He further says that the MIF will now have a penal provision and a social provision.
Later that day, the measure, designated as HB No. 6608, gets sponsored on the plenary floor, thus signaling the start of the period of sponsorship and debates.
Dec. 15-- With Speaker Romualdez presiding over the session, the MIF Bill--certified as urgent by Malacañang---gets approved on third and final reading via nominal vote result of 279-6-0 (yes-no-abstain).
It was approved on second reading via simple voice vote earlier that day, but not after the sponsors' acceptance of 21 items of individual amendments to the bill.
As it turned out, the MIF's entire journey in the House lasted only 18 calendar days.