House Speaker Martin Romualdez is leaving it up to President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on whether or not the latter will certify the proposed Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) as an urgent piece of legislation.
Romualdez had this to say to Manila-based reporters in Brussels, Belgium even as House of Representatives members are poised to approve the controversial measure during Wednesday afternoon's session.
"Well that’s up to him ," Romualdez said of Marcos Wednesday morning, Dec. 14 (Philippine time).
"I think in the House, just to let you know, I've been keeping myself updated. As of press time it was reported that there were 90 co-authors before they went to bed tonight in Manila. The Majority floor leader , told me that we had over 220 and I think by the time I get back baka umabot na ng 250 ," he said.
The House leader maintained that there have been "exhaustive" discussions on the measure, which is essentially a Philippine sovereign wealth fund. Such fund is already prevalent in Southeast Asia, it's proponents have said.
"So there will be over two-thirds of the House who will be co-authoring because there have been exhaustive briefings. Not just by the economic managers, not just by e the GFIs (government financial institutions), but from technical expertise in this matter. Very, very healthy exchange," said Romualdez, a principal author of the measure.
Contained in House Bill (HB) No.6608, the proposed MIF pools funds from different GFIs to create seed money that would then be used for investments here and abroad.
If the bill is certified as urgent, the House would be able to approve it on third and final reading right after its second reading-passage. Normally, there's a three-day wait rule between second and third reading approval.
The initial choice of using pension agencies Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Social Security System (SSS) for the MIF proved to be contentious, forcing the House leadership to amend the bill on the fly.
"As you can see, there's some concerns and sensitivities of the sourcing fund. But of course that's been resolved. But I'd like to very much make a case for, let’s look at the back end of this all, the whole purpose for setting up a sovereign wealth fund is to provide the capital and vehicle for which we can bring further development and benefits to people," noted Romualdez, arguably the President's top ally in the legislature.
There are 312 House members in all.