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Zubiri hopeful House adopts Senate version of Maharlika fund bill

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri is hopeful the House of Representatives will adopt their version of the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill, saying this version has more safeguards against corruption.

“Hopefully the [H]ouse can adopt our version which we improved with more safeguards in place to avoid possible misuse,” Zubiri said in a text message Thursday.

The Senate chief issued remark as he disclosed that the chamber is eyeing to pass the MIF bill next week following President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s certification of the measure as urgent.

“[T]he plan is to approve it by [second and third] reading next week. We are accommodating the last few members who want to interpellate on Monday then we can open the period of amendments immediately after. As a certified measure we can close and approve the bill on that same week,” he said.

Should the House adopt the Senate version of the MIF bill, there is no need for a bicameral conference which is meant to reconcile the disagreeing provisions of Congress’ versions of the measure.

After the adoption, the bill will be sent directly to Malacañang for Marcos’ approval.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who has been a vocal oppositor of the measure’s passage, said the minority bloc will interpellate the measure and deliver a contra speech before the period of amendments.

He also stated that the minority bloc will vote “no” on the MIF bill.

The MIF bill is currently under the period of interpellations in the Senate. After the interpellations, the chamber will open the period of amendments before it can be passed on second and third reading.

Since it was certified as urgent, the Senate is allowed to pass the MIF bill on second and third reading in one day.

Citing information from Senator Mark Villar, the main proponent of the bill in the Senate, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero said the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Treasury “have a lot of amendments which still [have] to be introduced to the committee amendments.”

He said there’s a possibility for the MIF bill to be passed by Congress before its sine die adjournment on June 2 if the House adopts the Senate version of the measure. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News