Maharlika fund

[OPINION] The Maharlika fund is a family bill against the general welfare of Filipinos

Jose Mario Dolor de Vega
[OPINION] The Maharlika fund is a family bill against the general welfare of Filipinos

Raffy de Guzman/Rappler

'Only an idiot of the lowest order will fail to see that this is a titanic scam'

I wholly concur to the contention of former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio that “the use of the investible funds of the Social Security System (SSS) and the Government Insurance System (GSIS) for the proposed Maharlika Wealth Fund is unconstitutional.”

Undeniably, both “the funds of both the SSS and GSIS are personal contributions of their respective members, along with the counterparts from their employers.”

Thus, according further from the good justice, “the income of SSS and GSIS investible funds must benefit only their respective members. The income of the Maharlika Sovereign Wealth Fund is for the benefit of all Filipinos, including non-SSS and non-GSIS members…”

Therefore, “the law cannot give the income from SSS and GSIS funds to non-members who did not contribute to the funds. This is taking of private property for a public purpose without just compensation, which is unconstitutional.”

Besides the serious constitutional contravention of this proposed law, I would also wish to highlight the greater moral aspect of this dangerous measure.

According to a GMA report:

“Among the authors of the proposed measure are House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, and Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative Ferdinand Alexander ‘Sandro’ Marcos III, cousin and son, respectively, of President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr.

“Under the proposal, government financial institutions (GFIs) such as the GSIS, the Social Security System (SSS), the Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank), and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) will be allowed to invest their funds for higher returns.”

Based on the facts, this proposed bill is not a measure that intends to protect nor advance the interest of the people, but rather to subvert their well-being and hard-earned monies through the years.

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The authors of this bill are relatives and friends of the administration, hence, this is a family bill (the son of the president is involved, and so is his cousin and the wife of this cousin, and another wife of another cousin, as well as the former pilot of the father of the president) that will only benefit the regime itself. Only an idiot of the lowest order will fail to see that this is a titanic scam, albeit state-sponsored. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s defense of this bill has further bolstered my belief that this whole matter is a sham. What a shame.

It is worthy to note that our neighbor, Malaysia, has also reported on this matter. As The Star Malaysia reported, “Philippine’s proposed $4.9-billion sovereign wealth fund spark fears; critics say it could end up like Malaysia’s 1MDB.”

The bill’s proponents highlight Indonesia as an example of a sovereign wealth fund successfully being used to attract direct investments into infrastructure and emerging industries. But Natixis senior economist Trinh Nguyen said Indonesia’s fund has a “very clear” investment objective, while the Philippine proposal “lacks a direction.”

“There are a lot of questions…. How is it going to benefit the longer-term development objective of the Philippines? Because it’s not very clear to me that it would,” she said.

Under the proposed bill, Maharlika funds would be “exempt from any regulatory restrictions.”

Investment options would include financial derivatives, equities, infrastructure projects, and “other investments as may be approved by the Board.”

We all know that Malaysia’s 1MDB has become one of the biggest corruption scandals in the world, with former Prime Minister Najib Razak ending up in jail. Said fiasco also helped Malaysia’s opposition to win their general election and defeat the ruling coalition for the first time since independence.

It is on these very reasons that we object to this proposed bill. Lastly, we are also against this measure by virtue of its title. We ardently believe the word “maharlika” is “widely associated with Marcos Jr.’s late dictator father and namesake, who presided over widespread human rights abuses and corruption during his two decades in power.” Marcos Sr.’s claim that he led a bunch of guerillas during WWII under that name was proven to be fake, not only by relevant authorities but by historians.

Hence, this proposed bill is not only unconstitutional and immoral, but also engaged in fake news and historical distortionism.

We will not allow our people to be cheated and we will not allow the revisionism and distortion of our history. –

Jose Mario D. De Vega is an Assistant Professor, Philosophy and Humanities Department, College of Education, Arts, and Sciences, National University of the Philippines.

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