Who says that the all-powerful House majority bloc had sole input on the controversial Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) Bill?
House Speaker Martin Romualdez highlighted on Friday afternoon, Dec. 15 a provision in the bill for social welfare purposes or government subsidies--in other words, "ayuda"--that was improved by the Makabayan bloc before the measure was passed in plenary.
“We have increased the contributions of the profits of the to social welfare fund that the government can utilize to provide assistance to those who need it the most,” Romualdez said in a statement.
Makabayan lawmaker ACT Party-list Rep. France Castro, who is part of the House minority bloc, proposed an amendment to increase the amount to 30 percent until compromise was eventually reached to peg the increase at 25 percent.
“This amendment was proposed by the Makabayan bloc, which we accepted,” Romaldez, Leyte’s 1st district representative, noted.
However, Castro; her fellow militant solons Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas, Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel; and three other House members voted against the passage of on third and final reading of HB No.6608 in Thursday night.
A total 279 House members voted in favor of the measure, so it was still approved without a hitch.
The perception is that the House leadership has been rushing the passage of the MIF despite the public's concerns over it--concerns that the minority congressmen have been voicing out.
But the improved ayuda provision is just one of 21 amendments the majority made to the HB No.6608 upon the request mostly of the minority.
One such proposal, again from Castro, is a provision to ensure government-owned and controlled corporations like the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), the Social Security System (SSS), and the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF) would not be required to contribute their respective funds to the MIF.
The bill sponsors also agreed to accept Castro’s proposed amendments to prohibit the Maharlika Investment Corporation (MIC) from investing in activities or entities with a record of commission of human rights violations, or relating to the production of weapons of war, as well as in corporations involved in activities that seriously degraded the environment.
The MIC will be tasked to handle the investible funds, as per HB No.6608.
Romualdez---one of the prime movers of the MIF--said the fund was principally envisioned "as an effective vehicle to execute and sustain high-impact infrastructure projects, urban and rural development, agricultural support, and other programs that would generate more income and economic activity in the country".
Not all members of the minority are against the passage of the MIF. Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Northern Samar 1st district Rep. Paul Daza had was initially a critic of the bill, but later expressed satisfaction over the amendments made to it even before it reached plenary consideration.