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4:46 pm on 16 January 2023, Monday
By Caryl Gonzales
Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel shamed President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s plan to “soft launch” the Maharlika Investment Fund at the World Economic Fund (WEF) in Switzerland, describing the move as “too early” and “too premature.”
In a statement released Sunday, January 15, Pimentel said the plan is a ploy to “force the Senate into passing” the controversial bill.
The staunch critic of the bill asserted that “it is more than a marketing strategy” and a move to “tie the hands of the Congress, particularly the Senate.”
Pimentel posed a question, “Sigurado ba silang lulusot sa Senado yang Maharlika Investment Fund bill (Are they sure the Maharlika Investment Fund bill will be passed in the Senate)?”
Earlier, Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Carlos Sorreta claimed Marcos Jr. would bring up the MIF during the WEF scheduled from January 16 to 20.
Pimentel noted that the administration should be cautioned against promoting the non-existent sovereign wealth fund at the WEF.
The senator stressed that making such a move would just put pressure on the Upper Chamber to enact the measure more swiftly at the expense of other legislative measures that were more urgent.
Pimentel reaffirmed his opposition to the MIF, claiming the fund is prone to corruption and abuse, similar to what happened in Malaysia.
He also raised concerns about the lack of transparency in the bill, then urged to debate on laws that will improve the lives of Filipinos, control inflation, and create opportunities.
Other lawmakers also expressed their pressing concern regarding the bill, including opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros and President Marcos’ sister Senator Imee Marcos.
Hontiveros stressed the proposed measure is a revival of the legacy left by the martial law dictatorship.
While Marcos feared that MIF could have the same result as the graft issues in Malaysia’s 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Meanwhile, the MIF measure won't be submitted to the Senate until January 23, 2023, when both chambers of Congress return from their break.
According to Senate President Miguel Zubiri, decisions should be made by mid-February.