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Corrections keep Maharlika bill from getting sent for Marcos’ approval

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Corrections keep Maharlika bill from getting sent for Marcos� approval
Senators gather to ratify the Maharlika Investment Fund bill at the Session Hall on May 31, 2023.
STAR / Mong Pintolo

MANILA, Philippines — Corrections are still being made to the controversial bill that seeks to create the Maharlika Investment Fund, delaying its transmittal to Malacañang for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s approval.

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva told reporters at the Senate on Tuesday that Congress has not yet transmitted the enrolled copy of the Maharlika fund bill for Marcos’ signature as “perfecting amendments” are still being applied to it.

An enrolled bill is the final version of a legislative proposal that has been certified as correct by the secretary of the Senate and the secretary general of the House of Representatives, and signed by the Senate president and the House speaker.

In this case, Villanueva said, there is no enrolled bill yet as the secretariat is still rectifying errors in the measure, including two sections that provide for different prescriptive periods for violations of the proposed law.

“It’s still with us. The ball is still with the Senate Office of the Secretariat and it’s being finalized, still in the process of cleaning up the bill and typographical errors and clerical errors and to avoid inconsistency,” he said partly in Filipino.

The third reading copy of the Maharlika fund bill provided to reporters by Sen. Mark Villar’s office has two sections on the prescriptive period of offenses committed under the proposed law, one of which provides for a 10-year period, while another provides for a 20-year period.

Villanueva said Villar, who sponsored the measure in the Senate, has written to Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri through Senate Secretary Renato Bantug for the secretariat to look into the errors and for the enrolled bill to reflect what was approved in plenary.

“Considering that during the deliberations of the period of amendments, the sponsor conveyed the committee’s firm position that they are firm with the 10-year prescription. So there’s no way that you can have 20-year or another provision that is not aligned with the sponsor’s position,” Villanueva said.

But Sen. Francis Escudero told DWIZ on Saturday that these changes to the bill are beyond “perfecting amendments” and can only be corrected by Congress through a joint resolution.

“The consecutive provisions are not the same, the [prescriptive period] changed. It’s not a matter of style,” Escudero said in Filipino.

But Villanueva insisted that these can be corrected as long as there is no enrolled bill yet.

“You know, we’re all human beings and you know, during that time it’s already three in the morning, 2:30 in the morning, typos happen, mistakes in numbers can happen,” he said.

He continued: “And that’s the main reason why the bills will have to go through the Senate secretariat and the House of Representatives secretary general to look into it before it is sent to the Palace as an enrolled bill.”

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MAHARLIKA INVESTMENT FUND

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