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Romualdez informs Asia CEO that the Maharlika Fund is adequately protected.

The planned Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) has sufficient protections to ensure that “funds be invested properly,” according to House Speaker Martin Romualdez on Friday.

In his taped video greeting to the attendees of the Asia CEO Forum at the Manila Marriott Hotel, Romualdez gave this guarantee.

“Let me reassure everyone that your House of Representatives is well aware of your concern regarding the potential misuse and abuse of the Fund. Because of this, we felt it necessary to include sufficient protections in House Bill No. 6608 to guarantee that the money is invested effectively. These measures are preventative and corrective, he noted.

According to Romualdez, the MIF has proactive safety measures, such as transparency requirements and the need for the Maharlika Investment Corp. (MIC), which will manage the fund, to submit its financial records to three layers of auditing by an internal auditor, an external auditor, and the Commission on Audit.

The audits must include a determination of whether investments are made in accordance with the Santiago principles, which are a set of rules created to encourage responsible leadership, openness, and accountability in addition to sound financial management.

House Bill No. 6608 also offers harsh penal measures and criminal sanctions to hold accountable and punish any director, trustee, or corporate official who is shown to have misused the management of the Maharlika Investment Fund, he said. “If these proactive provisions are not enough,” he added.

The Maharlika Investment Fund Joint Congressional Oversight Committee will also keep an eye on the MIC’s operations, he added, in addition to the MIF documents that will be available for anyone to see, including the results of the three-layer audit.

The members of the MIC management will be chosen through a rigorous selection process. They must be people of high moral character, with a solid reputation for independence and probity, as well as substantial experience and expertise in corporate governance, financial asset management, and investment management in both domestic and international markets.

A small amount of the investible money held by the Land Bank, Development Bank of the Philippines, and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas would be combined and managed by MIC as the Maharlika Investment Fund’s starting capital.

The bill also lists the financial instruments that could be used with the fund, such as foreign money, local and international corporate bonds, Sukuk or Islamic bonds, mutual funds, joint ventures, commercial real estate, and infrastructure projects.

The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), which ensures that the MIF is used for purposes that complement the government’s socio-economic development agenda, only permits MIC to participate in government projects that are approved by NEDA.

Depending on the amount embezzled, any negligent MIC official could be charged with malversation or plunder, the latter of which carries a non-bailable sentence.

The goal of the House, according to Romualdez, who pushed for the establishment of MIF, is “to help resuscitate the pandemic-battered economy and make economic reform the engine that would uplift our people’s lives.”

“The welfare of the Filipino people and the economic development of the country is always prioritized, from the quick passage of the General Appropriations Act of 2023 to the passage on the third and final reading of significant measures like the Health Emergency Auxiliary Reinforcement Team Act, the Virology and Vaccine Institute of the Philippines Act, as well as the Maharlika Investment Fund proposal.

The MIF law and other pieces of legislation could use improvement, thus the House leader urged individuals who could offer suggestions to voice them and present their ideas.

“The House of Representatives does not assert exclusive control over development-related issues. Please share your innovative ideas for promoting national growth if you have any, the speaker urged.

In order for them to be improved upon during the legislative process, the House, according to him, “is more than glad and willing to receive these proposals.”

Let’s cooperate to give the Philippines a better future. He continued, “With unity of spirit, there is truly nothing we cannot accomplish. I am confident in the inherent potential of every Filipino to develop workable answers to many of our challenges.

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