Makabayan 'dismayed' with Senate's MIF Bill as this contentious provision returns

At a glance

  • The inclusion of pension institutions the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Social Security System (SSS) as seed money contributions to the controversial Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) under the Senate version of the measure worries the Makabayan bloc.

  • ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro, Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas, and Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel comprise the group of militant congressmen.

  • They claim that the latest incarnation of the MIF will endanger the welfare and future of the Filipino people.

mari-gimenez-YrbGAeXFvCo-unsplash.jpg (Unsplash)

The Makabayan bloc is up in arms over the Senate's attempt to reinclude pension handlers Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and Social Security System (SSS) in the controversial Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) as fund contributors.

The militant congressmen said the senators did this "while we (Filipinos) weren’t looking".

ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro, Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas, and Kabataan Party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel comprise the Makabayan bloc in the House.

They pinpointed the worrisome provision in the Senate's version for he MIF Bill that cause the administrators of GSIS, SSS, and Pag-IBIG to voluntary contribute to the proposed Philippine sovereign wealth fund.

“'Under no circumstances shall [the state-run pension funds] be requested or required to contribute' is the deceptive wording in the Senate bill that actually allows these pension funds to invest in the MIF - provided their governing bodies (who are all appointed by the President) voluntarily decide to do so," the militants said in a statement,

"We are dismayed that the Senate is choosing to disregard the widespread sentiment expressed by workers in the private and public sector throughout the country for the government to keep its hands away from their pension funds. They do not want government to gamble with their retirement benefits in its questionable pursuit of high returns," they added.

The House of Representatives has already passed its version of the MIF, embodied in House Bill (HB) No.6608 on third and final reading last Dec. 15, 2023. But before this, the proposed tapping of the GSIS and SSS for seed money became a major sticking point of the bill's earlier version.

Only through the introduction of over 20 amendments to the bill was it able to gain the vote of some House members.

But the Makabayan bloc, which rejected HB No.6608 despite its many revisions, doesn't like the Senate version of MIF one bit.

"The Makabayan bloc believes that this latest incarnation of the [MIF] bill will endanger the welfare and future of the Filipino people and must be opposed," it said.

"Furthermore, we are alarmed that the Senate version proposes to increase the capitalization of the Maharlika Investment Corporation (or MIC, the entity that will run the fund) from P75 billion in the House version to a massive P500 billion.

"Of this, the seed fund will consist of P50 billion from the Land Bank of thr Philippines (LBP), P25 billion from the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), and P50 billion from the national government, to be sourced from its share in Pagcor (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation) income as well as other government-owned or-regulated gaming operators; properties identified by the Privatization Council of the DOF (Department of Finance), together with proceeds from privatization; as well as 'other sources', for a total of P125 billion," the leftist lawmakers said.

"Add to this the investments of other national government agencies, instrumentalities, corporations (including the aforementioned state-run pension funds), plus investments from the private sector, all of which could reach up to another P125 billion

They added: "We note with dismay that the Senate allows the Marcos administration to tap 'other sources' of government funding, such as 'royalties' and 'special assessments'."

"This is a catch-all provision that opens a vast array of government funds, including for example the Malampaya fund, or even income from new taxes, to be funneled to the MIC," they claimed.

"The Senate version makes the intent of the proposal very clear: [President Ferdinand "Bongbong"] Marcos Jr. wants to centralize government income and revenues totalling a half-trillion pesos to this presidential kitty to be directly managed by his alter egos, bypassing Congress and the appropriations process, undermining its role as the supposed guardian of the public purse," they further said.