Foreigners not allowed to sit on Maharlika board — DOJ

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com
Foreigners not allowed to sit on Maharlika board � DOJ
Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, with fellow lawmakers, applauds President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. after the Chief Executive signed into law the bill establishing the Maharlika Investment Fund (R.A. 11954) in rites held at Malacanang Palace.
Office of House Speaker Martin Romualdez

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang cannot appoint foreign nationals as independent directors of the Maharlika Investment Corp. (MIC), according to the legal opinion from the Department of Justice (DOJ) said.

Referring to the 1987 Constitution in its seven-page legal opinion, the DOJ said that public officers and officials are required to be Filipino nationals and must maintain allegiance to the state at all times.

“[A] foreign national does not owe any allegiance to the Philippines and its Constitution. Hence, we are of the opinion that a foreign national cannot be legally appointed by the President as an Independent Director of the MIC,” the agency’s legal opinion dated February 19 read. 

The DOJ’s legal opinion is a response by Usec. Raul Vasquez to Presidential Management Staff Head Elaine Masukat, when the agency was asked its expert thoughts on appointing foreign nationals on the board that governs the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) as its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) has no mention of the independent director’s nationality.

The legal opinion from the DOJ, issued by Usec. Raul Vasquez in response to a question from Presidential Management Staff Head Elaine Masukat, addresses the appointment of foreign nationals to the board overseeing the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF). The question came up because the nationality of the independent director is not specified in the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the fund.

The Justice department reminded the Palace that the MIF is a government-owned and controlled corporation that was made through legislation, thus making the independent directors public officials. 

The DOJ cited the following provisions from the Constitution concerning public officers:

SECTION 1. Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.

SECTION 18. Public officers and employees owe the State and this Constitution allegiance at all times, and any public officer or employee who seeks to change his citizenship or acquire the status of an immigrant of another country during his tenure shall be dealt with by law.

The Justice department also mentioned that individuals born as natural-born Filipino citizens with dual citizenship are eligible to be appointed as independent directors without being required to renounce their foreign citizenship.

According to the revised IRR of the MIF, an independent director shall have “proven probity”, competence, expertise and experience in finance, economics, investments, business management, or law.

They shall serve a term of one year but can be reappointed, provided that their term shall not exceed nine years. 

The MIF is composed of a nine-member board of directors namely:

  • Finance Secretary Ralph Recto (in his ex-officio capacity)
  • MIC President and Chief Executive Officer Rafael Consing Jr. 
  • Land Bank President Lynette Ortiz
  • Development Bank of the Philippines President Michael de Jesus
  • two regular directors
  • three independent directors

On January 4, the MIC approved a P125 billion capitalization plan for the MIF.

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