SC asked to void Marcos certification of Maharlika bill as urgent, House passage

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
SC asked to void Marcos certification of Maharlika bill as urgent, House passage
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr delivers his first State of the Nation address at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on July 25, 2022.
Aaron Favila via AFP / pool

MANILA, Philippines — Members of the Makabayan bloc on Monday asked the Supreme Court to void President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s certification of the House bill creating the Maharlika Investment Fund as urgent and its subsequent passage in the lower chamber of Congress.

READ: Marcos says 3 Japanese firms looking to invest in Maharlika Wealth Fund

In their 22-page petition, the group of lawmakers said Marcos’ certification was unconstitutional as the Charter only allows measures that address a public emergency or calamity to be certified as urgent.

Article VI, Section 26(2) of the 1987 Constitution provides that bills cannot pass either the House or the Senate "unless it has passed three readings on separate days, and printed copies thereof in its final form have been distributed to its Members three days before its passage."

The same provision, however, laid down an exception: "When the President certifies to the necessity of its immediate enactment to meet a public calamity or emergency."

No public calamity, emergency

The Makabayan lawmakers, along with Bayan Muna chairperson Neri Colmenares and former Rep. Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna party-list), argued that Marcos committed a grave abuse of discretion when he certified the House bill as urgent when there is no public calamity or emergency.

RELATED: Marcos ‘hesitant’ to extend state of calamity, restrict arrivals from China

The petitioners argued that since Marcos only certified the Maharlika fund House bill as urgent and did not issue a similar certification for a measure in the Senate, "the President is merely short-circuiting the legislative process in the other House."

At the time that Marcos certified the bill as urgent, there was still no bill seeking to establish the Maharlika fund in the Senate.

"This particularly belies the presidential claim that there is a need for the ’immediate enactment’ of the Maharlika bill. This is a fatal admission that there is no public emergency or calamity in the nature that triggers the activation of the exception," they said.

They also cited the lack of the words "public emergency" or "calamity" in Marcos’ certification and the absence of discussions on these during the House deliberations on the Maharlika fund bill.

RELATED: Senate minority: No Maharlika fund to 'soft launch' while bill still pending

Deprived of rights, responsibilities

They added that the certification and approval of the bill on third reading in the House infringed on their rights and responsibilities as lawmakers as members of the chamber voted on the measure "without a copy of the final form of the bill they were voting on as required in the Constitution."

"This rushed voting deprived them of the opportunity to scrutinize the bill and ensure that it contains all the provisions amended and agreed upon in the Second Reading," the petitioners said.

"The Members were deprived of the opportunity to perform the constitutionally required process in the approval of a measure for no appropriate and apparent reason except that the bill was merely certified urgent by the President."

They said the nullification of Marcos’ certification and the House’s approval of the Maharlika fund bill on final reading will let lawmakers amend the bill "in a manner that is not abominable to the Constitution."

Aside from voiding the certification and the bill’s passage in the House, petitioners also asked the SC to issue guidelines on certifying measures as urgent.

"The practice of requesting for and issuing a presidential certification on urgency for ‘public emergency or calamity’ must be tempered as it distorts the requirements and processes imposed by the 1987 Constitution and its Framers for the passage of a law," petitioners said.


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