Supreme Court of the Philippines

Pimentel, Lagman differ on remedy vs ‘unwise’ Maharlika fund

Bea Cupin

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Pimentel, Lagman differ on remedy vs ‘unwise’ Maharlika fund
(1ST UPDATE) Two of a handful of lawmakers who opposed President Marcos’ pet legislation have different views on how the Maharlika fund would fare before the High Court

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III on Friday, June 2, warned that the controversial Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF), a pet measure by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., would not “withstand the scrutiny of the Supreme Court.”

Pimentel said in a statement on Friday, June 2, that Marcos should veto the bill once it lands on his desk for his signature because the measure is “full of opaque provisions, contradictions, ambiguities, and loopholes.”

The senator blamed the rush in passing the law – just weeks before a months-long break in Congress.

The Maharlika Investment Fund or the Maharlika Fund, is a sovereign wealth fund that the administration says will be used to invest in high-ticket government projects, and domestic and foreign corporate bonds, among others.

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Around the world, sovereign wealth funds are derived from a country’s excess income – in the case of oil-rich countries, proceeds from their energy industry. The Philippines has no such surplus but Marcos has insisted that it would be “advantageous” to have a sovereign wealth fund now.

As of posting, Marcos has not yet signed the bill into law, nor has Malacañang announced a schedule for the signing of the priority administration measure.

The Supreme Court earlier junked a challenge lodged by the opposition Makabayan bloc against the Maharlika bill, saying it was a “premature” petition. At the time, the proposed bill had only passed the House of Representatives after being certified urgent by Marcos.

But back in February 2022, the Senate had only began tackling the proposal.

Yet even as the Senate, also dominated by a Marcos-allied supermajority, seemingly took its time in the initial stages of deliberation, the chamber was quick in passing the measure once Marcos certified it as urgent.

Only a handful of legislators opposed its passage.

Lagman: ‘No constitutional infirmity’

While Albay Representative Edcel Lagman was among those who voted against the fund, he offered a different remedy to what he described as an “unwise” measure.

“Although I am against the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) for not being seasonable as major negative economic indicators currently pummel the economy, congressional wisdom and expediency are not justiciable issues before the Supreme Court,” Lagman said in a statement on Friday.

“Thus, I am dousing cold water on projected petitions to challenge the constitutionality of the MIF before the High Court once it is signed into law by President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.,” he added.

Citing “unbroken jurisprudence,” Lagman noted that the High Court “has held that ‘The courts do not involve themselves with or delve into the policy or wisdom of a statute’ and ‘It is settled that courts are not concerned with the wisdom, justice, policy, or expediency of a statute.'”

“The remedy against an unwise or improvident law is to seek its amendment or repeal by the legislature itself. I do not see any constitutional infirmity in the MIF to merit the Supreme Court’s exercise of judicial review, albeit its being errant in wisdom,” Lagman said.

The veteran lawmaker added that the Senate did not have to ratify the bicameral conference committee report since the House panel had accepted the Senate version in its entirety, and the House ratified the bicam report.

Echoing the concern of other lawmakers and groups opposed to the Maharlika fund, Lagman said the proposed P500-billion fund should instead be used to for basic socio-economic services and infrastructure development.

He said this way, the fund would be out to better use, “rather than invest the same for contingent and lengthy ventures while the country does not have a revenue surplus and even has a surfeit of negative economic indicators like a huge fiscal deficit; high inflation rate; a very low human development index ranking; and poor gross domestic product (GDP) per capita.” –

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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.