Marcos orders suspension of Maharlika Investment Fund IRR

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com
Marcos orders suspension of Maharlika Investment Fund IRR
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 simple rites held at Malacanang Palace Tuesday morning.
Office of House Speaker Martin Romualdez

MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. temporarily halted the implementation of the controversial Maharlika Investment Fund pending further study of its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).

According to an October 12 memorandum addressed to the Bureau of Treasury, Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), Marcos' directive is to suspend the direct implementation of the MIF, to ensure the fund's objectives are realized for the country's development, with safeguards in place for transparency and accountability.

“With reference to the IRR of RA No. 11934, and upon the directive of the President, the Treasurer of the Philippines, in coordination with the LBP and DBP, is hereby DIRECTED to suspend the implementation of the IRR of RA No. 11954 pending further study thereof, and to notify all concerned heads of departments, bureaus, offices and other agencies of the executive department, including GOCCS, of such action,” the memorandum read.

The suspension order came a day after Marcos reduced LBPs government deposits to the government from 50% to 0% for 2022 earnings weeks after the state-run bank gave P50 billion as a part of the capital of the fund. The fund was provided to ensure LBP's compliance with the capital adequacy requirements set by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

LBP and DBP are contributing a sum of P75 billion pesos to bolster the capital of the Maharlika Investment Corporation in accordance with the fund’s IRR.

Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, who is set to assume the role of chairman as stipulated in the IRR, announced that the MIF is anticipated to become fully operational by the end of 2023.

The Chief Executive Officers of the two state-run banks, LBP and the DBP, will also be given positions. 

Scrap, not suspend

For opposition lawmakers, it would be better to scrap Maharlika instead of just suspending it.

In a statement, Rep. France Castro (ACT-Teachers) said that Marcos’ suspension of the law showed that it was “rushed and flawed on so many levels.”

"Ito talaga ang hirap sa minadaling batas ng Maharlika fund kaya hindi gaanong naaral at mukhang lalo lang maglulugmok sa kahirapan dahil pera ng bayan ang nakataya at maging ang pinaghirapang ipon ng mga kliyente ng Landbank at DBP," Castro said in a statement. 

"Malinaw na mas maraming problemang idudulot ang Maharlika fund at walang garantiya ang benepisyo, mabuti pang ibasura na ito habang maaga pa," she added. 

Since its proposal, the law has recieved criticisms from economists and several lawmakers due to its lack of safeguards and its alleged prone to misuse. 

In September, opposition lawmakers asked the Supreme Court to declare Maharlika unconstitutional. — with reports from Cristina Chi and Alexis Romero

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