Majority senators react to House's decision to amend MWF bill

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva and fellow majority member Senator JV Ejercito have welcomed the decision of their House colleagues to drop the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Social Security System (SSS) as contributors to the controversial Maharlika Wealth Fund (MWF).

Senators Joel Villanueva (left) and JV Ejercito (Facebook)

"This is a welcome development and we thank our colleagues in the House of Representatives for heeding our call to exclude the GSIS and SSS pension funds from the proposed ," Villanueva said in a statement Thursday, Dec. 8.

"We reiterate that we need to protect the retirement funds and benefits of our workers. We also proposed alternative sources of funds like revenues from the mining and plastic industry," he noted.

In place of the GSIS and SSS, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) will now be tapped to contribute to the seed fund of the MWF. The committee-approved version of of MWF, embodied in House Bill (HB) No.6398, mandates a start up fund of P275 billion.

"We already said that establishing a sovereign wealth fund (SWF) is a very good proposal, but we have to be circumspect about the sources of the fund and how it will be managed.

"In other countries, their central banks are the ones who manage these funds, which is why we can look into giving the the responsibility of managing the SWF as an independent financial institution," Villanueva said.

On Wednesday night, Marikina City 2nd district Rep. Stella Quimbo and Ilocos Norte 1st district Rep. Sandro Marcos--two of the authors of HB No.6398--announced separately that the measure would be revised to exclude the GSIS and SSS as contributors. This move was supposedly due to public backlash, given that GSIS and SSS rely on premiums paid by its members.

"The HOR’s (House) new scheme on the Maharlika Investment Fund is a very welcome development," Ejercito said, for his part.

"That will then be similar to the bill I filed during the 17th Congress wherein the establishment of a Welfare Fund will derive its funding from reserves and surplus," he said.

"I will not support any measure that will gamble on SSS and GSIS pension," Ejercito added.