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Pimentel seeks ‘ironclad’ provision in Senate's Maharlika bill to keep SSS, GSIS funds untouched

An “ironclad” provision to ensure that the pension funds will not be touched or compromised should be included in the Senate’s version of the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said Tuesday.

Pimentel pushed for such a provision after the minority bloc disclosed that “the threat that MIF would dip its hands into retirees’ pension funds is very much alive.”

“While they removed the forced contribution from [the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) and the Social Security System (SSS)], the current version of MIF under consideration by the Senate would allow these social insurance institutions to invest in Maharlika voluntarily as long as their boards agree,” Pimentel warned.

Although Section 6 of the proposed bill states that government-owned and controlled corporations providing for the social security of government employees, private sectors, workers and employees, and other sectors and subsectors, such as but not limited to the GSIS, SSS, and Home Development Mutual Fund are not requested or required to contribute to the Maharlika Investment Corporation (MIC), Section 12 of the MIF bill still allows their “voluntary investment.”

Section 12 of the bill provides that “other government financial institutions, government-owned and controlled corporations may invest into the MIF, subject to their respective investment and risk management strategies and approval of their respective boards.”

This section was earlier tagged by Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros as a “backdoor provision.”

“Such provisions within the MIF bill raise serious concerns about the safety and security of our pension system. We should provide an ironclad provision to shield pensions from this very financially unsound and dangerous undertaking called Maharlika Investment Fund,” Pimentel said.

“Hindi pwedeng pilitin. Hindi puedeng hingan. Pero kung kusa at boluntaryong magbibigay, tatanggapin naman!” Pimentel said.

(They are not required nor can they be requested to invest, but the Maharlika Investment Corporation will accept it if it is voluntarily given.)

During the interpellation on the MIF bill Monday, Senator Mark Villar, main proponent of the measure, said state pension institutions should not be prohibited from making investments which they deem beneficial to their members.

Villar said there’s nothing in the bill that requires the state pension institutions to invest in the MIF but there’s also no provision in the bill which prohibits them from doing so.

“It is something that they are not prohibited from doing, which I don’t think they should be prohibited from making any kind of investment that may be beneficial to their members,” he added.

Several senators, including Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva and Senator Imee Marcos, have expressed reservations over the use of pension funds as seed capital for the MIF. Senator Chiz Escudero, meanwhile, warned against the immediate passing of the bill saying the source of funds for the proposed sovereign fund are still vague. —VAL, GMA Integrated News