SC asked to void certification of Maharlika fund bill as urgent 

By John Victor D. Ordoñez, Reporter 

OPPOSITION lawmakers have asked the Philippine High Court to void President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s certification of the proposed Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) as urgent as well as the approval of the bill in the House of Representatives.   

In a 22-page petition filed on Monday before the Supreme Court (SC), members of the Makabayan bloc said there was no public emergency or calamity to justify the certification of urgency.  

“There is a history of abuse, going back several administrations of the presidential prerogative to certify a proposed legislation as urgent despite the absence of any public emergency or calamity,” they said.   

“This has to stop.”  

The House approved the bill on third and final reading on Dec. 15, just over two weeks after it was filed.  

Under the Constitution, a president can only certify a bill as urgent if there is a public emergency or calamity that requires the immediate passage of a law.  

Mr. Marcos said in his letter the immediate enactment of the bill creating the Maharlika Fund is needed “in order to establish a sustainable national investment fund as a strategic mechanism for strengthening the investment activities of top performing government financial institutions (GFIs), and thus pump-prime economic growth and social development.  

The Makabayan bloc said the certification of the bill showed an abuse of discretion as there was no similar certification addressed to the Senate. 

A Senate counterpart bill was filed in January by Senator Mark A. Villar.   

Michael Henry Ll. Yusingco, a lawyer and policy analyst, said the petition before the Supreme Court could compel the president’s allies to speed up the enactment of the bill. 

“The allies of the president can, theoretically, enact the law before the Supreme Court, even makes a preliminary ruling on the petition,” he said in a Facebook Messenger chat.  

“Lawmakers who oppose this bill should bring this matter to the people directly and shape public sentiment against the bill.”  

He said that the petition was prematurely filed since there is no actionable issue on the bill’s certification yet.   

Mr. Yusingco said the high tribunal usually views petitions like these as “political questions” and often refuses to assume jurisdiction.  

The proposed MIF has been heavily criticized by economists, former Cabinet officials, business groups and civil society organizations over the lack of transparency and safeguards.  

The bill’s initial version required state pension funds to pour money into the wealth fund, which saw strong public opposition.  

The proposed sovereign wealth fund, if approved, is intended to finance big-ticket government projects such as power grids and dams.  

“The petitioners are not asking for the President to be powerless in the face of public emergencies or calamities,” the Makabayan lawmakers said. “Rather, they are seeking for the exercise of a power that would infringe on the constitutional duties and processes of Congress to be exercised only when a clearly defined emergency or calamity requires the curtailment of these processes.”