Maharlika bill stays at Villar’s committee

Of the 24 senators, only Pimentel and Senator Risa Hontiveros voted in favor of the motion to transfer the bill to Cayetano’s committee

The supermajority in the Senate once again proved that there is power in number.

A total of 19 senators rejected Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III’s motion to transfer Senate Bill 1670, or the proposed Maharlika Investment Funds law, from Senator Mark Villar’s Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies to the Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises chaired by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.

Villar, a close ally of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., authored the bill, the counterpart of House Bill 660, which was passed by the House of Representatives last December.

Of the 24 senators, only Pimentel and Senator Risa Hontiveros voted in favor of the motion to transfer the bill to Cayetano’s committee. Meanwhile, Senator Pia Cayetano, sister of Alan Peter, abstained from the vote.

Pia explained her abstention had to do with not being sure whether her brother would be happy or not to take more workloads.

“He did not say anything to me. I don’t know if he will be mad at me because it will cause him more workload or not. So I abstained,” she said.

“I would like to believe that any chairman of this august chamber that would hear it would hear it — giving everybody their due, a time to go get into the matter,” she added.

GOCC creation

Pimentel pointed out that the Senate panel on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises should be the primary committee to deliberate on the proposed measures since the two bills are seeking to create a government-owned and controlled corporation or GOCC.

“I think the correct and proper committee to be the primary committee would be our committee and government corporations and public enterprises because undoubtedly, the two bills create a GOCC,” he said.

“It does not create a bank, it is not about currency, but is it about the third subject matter of financial institution under the committee that we referred to? No,” he added.

The minority leader also pointed out that by the definition of a “financial institution,” the proposed fund will fall under the supervision of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

“That is a quasi-bank or institution similar to a bank. That is an institution which deals with the public so that money collected from the public is directed to those in need of funding,” he added.

MIF a GFI

Before the chamber started with their voting, Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri explained that the bills were referred to the committee chaired by Villar since its counterpart in the lower house led the deliberation on the said bill.

Zubiri explained that the Maharlika Investment Fund is a government financial institution that, he said, could be used as a funding mechanism.

“On the face of it all, it seems more appropriate (if) we’ll leave it with the committee on financial institutions,” he said.

He also stressed that a charter is needed for a GOCC, which the chamber is not willing to take up for the proposed sovereign wealth fund.

Responding, Pimentel reminded the Senate that it is not bound by the actions of its counterpart in the lower house.

It would be safer to refer the measure to the panel “where it is clearly under” which, Pimentel said, is the Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises.

Citing Senate rules and certain provisions of the measure, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva said the bill was referred to the “right” committee.

Proof provided

“If you look at the rules of the jurisdiction of the committee on banks financial institutions and the currencies, it says all matters relating to banks financial institutions, government and private currencies, capital markets, mutual funds, securitization, coinage and circulation of money,” Villanueva said.

Pimentel responded to Villanueva, saying that it is “precisely” the proof that the bill is seeking a create a new government corporation.

Zubiri then answered Pimentel and said that the establishment of the fund is the “primordial concern,” and only followed by the creation of the investment corporation.

“If you look at the priorities, the establishment of the fund, therefore, the primary committee really to handle this is banks and financial institutions, the secondary is government-owned and controlled corporations,” he added.

Senator Francis Tolentino, likewise, cited Senate rules, stressing that there is no government corporation that will handle the Maharlika Investment Fund, which is under the jurisdiction of the Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises.

Pimentel responded to Tolentino’s statement, saying that it is more important in the bill is the corporation itself rather than the actual creation of the fund.

“You can say it’s a fund but the fund will not function without decision-makers and the more critical here actually is the Maharlika Investment Corporation. If there is a fund [but] nobody manages the fund what happens?” he asked.


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