Escudero: Maharlika bill prohibits investments from SSS, GSIS but...


MANILA, Philippines — While the bill for the Maharlika Investment Fund prohibits the use of pension funds for the contentious fund, that provision may be problematic in the future, Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero, who still has doubts about the bill that the Senate passed past midnight last Wednesday.

Asked on Super Radyo dzBB whether this clashed with President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s pronouncement that while the Social Security System and Government Service Insurance System cannot be used for the seed fund, pension funds can be invested into Maharlika later on, Escudero said the provision will stay if it is in the version signed into law.

"They can no longer sneak something in, that would be falsification," he said in Filipino. He said, however, that he doubts whether the provision is legally sound because the prohibition may go beyond what the bill creating the Maharlika Investment Corp. that will manage the fund is supposed to do.

"That may be interference with the charter of the pension funds on what they can and cannot do," he said, especially if the investment actually makes money as its proponents project. 

"So, pension funds will be prohibited from investing in a fund where they can make a bigger profit than in a regular investment? When that happens, will we need to amend the law?" Escudero said. He said he had advised colleagues to consider amending the charters of the SSS and GSIS.

RELATED: Safeguards in place? Groups worry over Maharlika fund despite amendments

Supreme Court battle?

He said that, as he understands the bill, there is a prohibition on the SSS and GSIS investing either seed money into the Maharlika Investment Fund and later on. He said, though, that that might be "up to interpretation" by the Supreme Court if it is brought to court.

Escudero missed voting on the Maharlika last Wednesday, saying he has expected deliberations to continue into the next day because questions remained about the bill that Marcos had certified urgent.

He said he was waiting for the submission of a "test of economic viability" that the 1987 Constitution requires to create a state corporation, saying that while he felt that the requirement had been met, it is unclear what exactly that document should look like.

Escudero, a lawyer, said the lack of that document could be used in questioning the Maharlika fund at the Supreme Court, stressing however, that he would not be doing that.

Members of the Makabayan bloc at the House said over the week that they are considering bringing the issue to the Supreme Court while Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III — also a lawyer — also said that the potential law would not pass scrutiny at the SC.

Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay), another lawyer and also president of the minority Liberal Party, said that while he opposed the creation of the Maharlika Investment Fund "congressional wisdom and expediency are not justiciable issues before the Supreme Court."

Escudero said that while he respects Lagman's legal opinion, that will not stop others who might want run to the Supreme Court. — Jonathan  de Santos

vuukle comment





  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with