Pimentel advises PBBM not to certify Maharlika Fund

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III on Thursday, December 15 said a presidential certification of the Maharlika Fund bill as urgent is clearly an abuse already of presidential prerogatives and powers.

‘’Hence I sincerely hope, for the sake of the Rule of Law, that President Marcos will not certify the Maharlika Fund bill as ‘urgent’,’’ Pimentel added.

Pimentel explained that the presidential certification is for legislative measures which are urgently needed in order to meet a public emergency or calamity.

‘’Sige nga, please ask (Please ask Finance Secretary (Benjamin) Diokno, what emergency or calamity is there now present which the Maharlika Fund is intended to be able to immediately address, help, or alleviate?,’’ he asked.

The Senate fiscalizer said that “we are being set up for something. What that something is, I don’t know yet.’’

‘’We will try to find out when we interpellate on the Maharlika Fund bill. What is it that they really want to achieve with this measure? And why is this measure urgent at all?,’’ he asked.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said the general sentiment in the Senate is to wait for the final version of the bill from the House of Representatives.

The Senate chief assured that the measure requires long discussions as they would try to study if carefully.

‘’I already spoke about it with President Marcos the week after the House contingent removed the Social Security System (SSS) and Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) from their version,’’ he said.

‘’It's a step on the right direction, but nevertheless we want to see the same cards, we want to see if COA (Commission on Audit) can access the reports para meron tayong transparency (so that there will be transparency) even if it comes from GOCC (government-owned and -operated corporation). Pera pa rin ng taumbayan (That’s the people’s money),’’ he added.

Zubiri said he has already tasked Senators Juan Edgardo M. Angara, Sherwin Gatchalian, Mark Villar and Alan Peter S. Cayetano to study the measure.

Angara, chairman of the Senate finance committee, stated that the Maharlika Fund is a high-risk endeavour.

Hence, there should be safeguards and limitations on investment into riskier endeavours, he emphasized.

‘’I’m sure senators will scrutinise the measure and inject safeguards and best practices,’’ he added.