Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Friday urged President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to veto the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill when it reaches his desk, citing the grave constitutional questions that attended the process of its passage in Congress, besides what he called the serious flaws of the measure itself.
“Kahit hindi pa tampered, pinapa-veto na nga, lalo pa ngayon [na na-tamper]?” Pimentel said in a radio interview, referring to his warning to colleagues that what they did—tinker with the text of the enrolled bill—violated the strict constitutional mandate in legislating laws.
On Wednesday, the office of Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri announced that he had signed the enrolled bill after the Senate Secretary entered the corrections in two conflicting provisions of the bill about the prescription period for penal provisions.
The day after, President Marcos told reporters that he will sign the bill “as soon as I get it,” prompting House leaders to predict it will be enacted before the second State of the Nation Address of Marcos on July 24.
In the radio interview on Friday, however, Pimentel, a Bar topnotcher, urged Marcos to veto the bill and have his Congress allies craft a new one.
After all, he noted, “the President did not get” some key provisions he originally wanted because the Senate majority dropped this from their final version, which the House subsequently adopted in order to skip having a bicameral conference committee called just as Congress adjourned sine die.
Pimentel listed five reasons he think the MIF should be vetoed in its current version.
First, he said, the serious legal question that may arise from the “tampering” with the enrolled bill.
Second, he said, the innate flaws in the MIF concept itself, which cannot be a sovereign wealth fund typically envisioned in other countries since the Philippines, the senator said, does not have a budget surplus nor a “windfall” from prime resources like oil or minerals.
Moreover, he said the geopolitical headwinds in many parts of the globe do not augur well for the global market for an MIF.
Fourth, he said, the MIF was rushed and did not involve the participation of stakeholders.
Fifth, the entire process of passing MIF was marred by constitutional questions, including Marcos’ certification of the bill as urgent, even though he did not cite a particular emergency that needed to be addressed by a certification as the Constitution clearly requires.