Thirteen labor groups signed a statement on 25 May 2023, expressing deep concern over the haste with which President Marcos Jr. wanted the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill to be enacted into law.  They called on the Senate not to rush the approval of the bill which the President recently certified as urgent.

“With widespread corruption in government, it is but right to express fears over this proposal. We thus urge the Senate not to rush the approval of the MIF as it involves hundreds of billions of public funds,” the labor organizations said in their joint statement.

They expressed apprehension that even government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCC’s) that provide social services to the people like the Government Service Insurance System, Social Security System and Pag-ibig funds, would be made to invest in the MIF.  This would put the people’s contribution at risk.

Establishing an MIF, they said, would require taking away billions of pesos from government institutions involved in helping farmers, medium-scale and micro enterprises, education, public health care and COVID response.

The MIF was a proposal filed by seven lawmakers, in the House of Representatives last November 2022.  The initiators of the project included Martin Romualdez, the first cousin of the President, and Sando Marcos, the President’s son.

The House Bill proposed the creation of a sovereign wealth fund for the Philippines.  The idea was suposed to have been inspired by South Korea’s own soverieng wealth fund.  The fund, if established, would be managed by the Maharlika Investments Corporation. 

Lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives sounded the warning on the bill, saying that provisions in the bill put the pension funds at risk. 

In a press conference, Rep. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Women’s Party) also hit the provisions in the Senate MIF bill allowing foreigners to sit on the board of Maharlika Investment Corp., which will have control over the controversial investment fund.

Rep. France Castro (ACT Teachers) also expressed concern over a provision allowing the government to have access to at least P125 billion worth of preferred shares. Castro said this could be prone to “money laundering” due to the discretionary powers given to the Board of Directors.

“This opens the wealth fund to corruption, money laundering and ill-gotten wealth,” Castro said.