By Zaldy De Layola

House Speaker Martin Romualdez (File photo)

MANILA – House Speaker Martin Romualdez on Sunday said transparency is one of the safeguards put in place in the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill to ensure it is properly utilized and to prevent being misused by any administration.

This, after the House of Representatives on Dec. 15 overwhelmingly approved on the third and final reading House Bill (HB) No. 6608, one of the priority bills of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

“During the lengthy and exhaustive plenary deliberations on HB 6608, we have adopted various safeguards to ensure we can achieve the objectives of the Maharlika Investment Fund, and one of such is a provision to ensure transparency on relevant financial matters pertaining to the MIF,” Romualdez said.

Under HB 6608, he said a provision specifically stated that the public can exercise the right to freedom of information regarding MIF financial matters.

A member of the opposition, ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro, proposed the provision during the period of individual amendments in the plenary deliberation on the measure.

Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, chairman of the technical working group (TWG) on HB 6608, noted that such a safeguard is actually embodied in Section 29 of the bill under consideration, but he agreed to accept the amendment proposed by the Makabayan bloc member.

“The 3rd reading version now creates an MIF that is significantly more transparent and accountable than the committee report. I am proud of the work of the Technical Working Group, which included recommendations from the minority,” Salceda said.

Under Section 43 of the approved HB 6608, all documents of the MIF and the Maharlika Investment Corporation—the independent body created to manage the fund– shall be open, available and accessible to the public.

These documents include, but are not limited to the following: (a) All investments thereof, whether planned or under negotiation by the MIC and on the portfolio of the MIF; (b) The statements of assets and liabilities (SALNs) of the members and officials of the board of directors, risk management unit, and advisory board; (c) The SALNs of those who appointed and designated the said members and officials; (d) Audit documents from the internal auditor, external auditor, and the Commission on Audit; and (e) Similar documents and information.

The measure also provides that records on the MIC pertaining to its investment activities shall be secured and maintained pursuant to the rules of the National Archives of the Philippines.

In addition, the disclosure rules under Republic Act (RA) No. 8799 or the Securities Regulation Code, Republic Act No. 11232, or the Revised Corporation Code, and other relevant laws, rules, and regulations shall apply to the MIC.

Executive Order (EO) No. 2, s. 2016, which operationalizes in the Executive Branch the constitutional right of the people to information and State policies, also covers the MIF.

HB 6608 called for the establishment of the MIF to promote economic development by making strategic and profitable investments in key sectors. It also earmarked at least 25 percent of the net profits of the MIC for social welfare programs.

In the Philippine Senate, Senate Minority Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said he will seek clarifications of the name changing of the controversial Maharlika Investment Funds (MIF).

In a radio interview, Pimentel said he was assured by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri that the proposed measure in the Senate will be treated fairly, will undergo hearings and will adhere to the Senate rules.

Lahat ay tutukan form and substance, name, legislative history and pagbabago ng anyo, pati titulo, dati soverign fund ang konsepto, ngayon Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) na, titingnan natin ang final na kopya at ikumpara sa orihinal (We will focus on the form and substance, names, legislative history , including the form., change of title, from a concept of sovereign fund, now it is MIF we will look in to the final copy and compare it with the original),” Pimentel said over DZBB.

Sovereign Funds, Pimentel said, are surplus funds of a country that can be used for other investments. (with reports from Leonel Abasola/PNA)