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Maharlika bill's final copy signed by Zubiri

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri has signed the final copy of the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill on Wednesday. 

The lawmaker signed the MIF bill at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, where he is currently conducting an official visit to meet members of the United States Congress and government agencies.

According to Zubiri, Senate Secretary Renato Bantug Jr. brought along a copy of the measure to Washington along with the Estate Tax Amnesty Extension bill.

“The Maharlika bill is a priority measure, and the Estate Tax Amnesty Extension is very time-sensitive. Marami nang naghihintay sa mga bills na ito. Fortunately, the [bills] were already prepared by the time Secretary Bantug was set to join us in Washington,” Zubiri said in a statement.

“He was able to bring them along with him, instead of letting them sit in the Senate waiting for my return, and I was able to sign them on Philippine soil, here in the embassy,” he added.

After Zubiri’s signing of the bills, the Senate president said the Estate Tax Amnesty Extension Act will be sent to Malacanang while the MIF bill will be sent to the House of Representatives for the signature of Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez.

Asked how the Senate addressed the double provisions on the prescriptive period in the MIF bill, Zubiri said: “I believe the corrections were thoroughly discussed by the majority bloc in our Viber group, including the correction sent by Senator Mark Villar.”

The Senate version of the bill, which was eventually adopted by the House of Representatives, included two sections on the prescriptive period.

The draft bill passed on the Senate floor provides a 10-year prescriptive period for crimes punishable under the measure, while another section in the same bill provides for a 20-year prescriptive period.

Several senators, including Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Senator Francis Escudero, and Senator Risa Hontiveros, assert that the bill should be sent back to the Senate plenary in order for lawmakers to fix the bill.

The Senate approved the MIF bill on third and final reading on May 31, 2023. The MIF seeks the creation of a sovereign wealth fund that the government can use to make investments.

A total of 19 senators voted in favor of the bill.

Among the major amendments introduced to the measure was the absolute prohibition of the use of funds of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Social Security System (SSS), Philippine Health Insurance (PhilHealth) Corporation, Pag-IBIG, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Philippines Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO)  in the capitalization and investments in the Maharlika fund.

Under the measure, an oversight panel composed of seven members each from the two chambers of Congress will be formed to oversee, monitor, and evaluate the implementation of the proposed law.

The measure was earlier certified as urgent by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

The Marcos administration’s economic managers last week reaffirmed their support for the MIF, saying it could serve as an alternative financing option for the government should the Philippines become an upper-middle income state. —VAL, GMA Integrated News