Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Marcos defends Maharlika Fund: Management key to success

Bea Cupin

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Marcos defends Maharlika Fund: Management key to success

File photo of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Rey Baniquet/PNA

The bill creating the fund has yet to reach Malacañang weeks after it sped through Congress

MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. again came to the defense of the controversial Maharlika Investment Fund, a proposed sovereign wealth fund that made it through Congress just before lawmakers went on their months-long break.

“The key to the success of any fund, hedge fund, pension fund, sovereign fund, investment fund is the management,” said Marcos on Thursday, June 22, on the sidelines of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) anniversary in Makati City.

The President was responding to a question in a media interview on whether he would sign into law the bill creating the Maharlika Investment Fund, which hurdled Congress on May 31 – just before session was adjourned sine die. Session does not resume until July 24, when Marcos would deliver his second State of the Nation Address.

Marcos himself came up with the idea of the fund. He later certified as urgent the bill – first in the House and then, month later, before the Senate. Both chambers are dominated by Marcos allies.

The Senate version, which the House later adopted, bars investments from welfare and pension funds. It also tweaked the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ dividend contribution and set limits to capitalization and corporate terms, among others.

Yet criticism still abounds for the proposed fund – particularly, its necessity. Around the world, the most prominent sovereign wealth funds are drawn from a country’s excess income or surplus. The Philippines has no such surplus income.

Its defenders – Marcos included – insist the fund is necessary, since proceeds would be used to bankroll the country’s priority programs.

“If the bill comes before me, I will sign it. But the secret to its success is who do we put in management. What is their experience? What is their reputation? What is their success rate? And we have quite a few good money managers, financial managers that we can call upon,” said Marcos, without naming who those “good money mangers” were.

“The only way that the fund doesn’t get into trouble, is that it’s well and professionally-managed. So one of the elements that makes that happen is that there is a very clear independence from the day to day government function. Those decisions are not made by political decisions in government; the decisions made for the fund are made by finance professionals,” he added.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri signed the enrolled bill inside the Philippine embassy in Washington DC, on the sidelines of an official work trip to the US capital.

Speaker Martin Romualdez has yet to sign the enrolled bill, as of posting. Romualdez was among the guests during the SEC event but did not speak to media. – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.