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7:49 pm on 5 December 2022, Monday
By Patricia Francia Lachica
After the proposed Maharlika Wealth Fund drew flak from several lawmakers and the public, House Senior Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Ilocos Norte Rep. Sandro Marcos came to the rescue and defended the measure, saying that “it is not a new idea.”
“Sovereign Wealth Funds are not new. Singapore, for example, has had Temasek Holdings since 1974 and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation since 1981. There are more than 20 sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East,” said Arroyo, a former president, said.
The House Senior Deputy Speaker added that the idea “is not new," even dragging former senator Bam Aquino into the issue, pointing out that the latter filed a similar bill in 2016.
“The success of any fund, sovereign or private, lies in the quality of its management. In the current version of the Maharlika Wealth Fund, the President of the Philippines chairs its governing Board. This is a powerful statement that the highest official of the land will hold himself as ultimately accountable to the Filipino people for the performance of the Fund,” the lawmaker continued.
Likewise, Ilocos Norte lawmaker and presidential son Sandro Marcos defended the bill, echoing Arroyo’s statements, saying that it is "not a new idea," as Aquino and senator JV Ejercito filed a similar measure
"Well if you think about it, this isn't a new idea. Sec. Diokno already said they were looking at it during the time of Duterte. If I'm not mistaken, former Senator Bam Aquino filed a bill in 2016 trying to do the same thing,” said Rep. Marcos.
"My guess is because hindi naipasa dahil patapos na 'yung administrasyon ni former president PNoy. I believe senator JV also, nag-file ng bill. So it's not a new idea," he added.
The younger Marcos claimed that the measure has been politicized, but the corporation will be “free from politics,” where he emphasized that it needs to be helmed by technocrats as they have "no interest in politics.”
"Like I said, I think part of the reason was that, of course, it's been politicized, but the whole point of this exercise is that this corporation will be free from politics. That's why it needs to be run by technocrats; wala silang interes sa pulitika," he said.
"Yes, the President will be chairman of the board, but...you have to look at it beyond this administration. This is not something for the next six years, this is something that will keep on going," ended Rep. Marcos.
To recall, Aquino also filed a measure called the "Philippine Investment Fund Corporation Act,” where it aimed to establish a “Philippine Investment Fund Corporation (PIFC)” that would be “an independent corporate body attached to the Office of the President.”
The bill stated that “the PIFC shall operate as a “Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) that adheres to principles of good governance, transparency, and accountability.”
Further, under Section 8 of the proposed act, it said that the “Capitalization of the Corporation will be from the General Appropriations Act of the government,” or the annual budget of the administration.
“The PIFC shall have an authorized capital stock of Two Hundred Billion Pesos (Php 200,000,000,000.00) at its inception, which shall be fully subscribed and paid in cash by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines upon the approval of this Act. The Authorized Capitalization of the PIFC shall be appropriated in the annual General Appropriations Act ("GAA") or in such manner as the Government, through the National Treasurer and the Secretary of Budget and Management, may determine,” it wrote.
For the current proposal principally authored by Marcos and his uncle House Speaker Martin Romualdez, the capital seed of the Maharlika Wealth Fund would come from the funds from government financial institutions, including GSIS, SSS, DBP, and LandBank.