For all intents and purposes, the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) and the soon to be created
Maharlika Investment Corporation (MIC), under the approved final version of the MIF by both houses of Congress, is a done deal. The consolidated version, Senate Bill No. 2020, now only awaits
the signature of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. To the ordinary individual who may not be fully aware of what the MIF is all about here are some pointers for better understanding. The MIF is a so called “sovereign wealth fund” that is an investment fund owned by the State comprising of money
from the government and usually taken from surplus reserves of the country.

Think of it as a scheme by some friends to contribute some of their money to fund a certain venture
in the hope that it will become successful. If successful then their fund increases exponentially. That in a nutshell is what a sovereign wealth fund or MIF is all about. Senate Bill No. 2020 points
out that “It is the policy of the State to generate and grow national wealth, xxx The State further recognizes the country’s national capital and its role as a basis for the economy, hence the need to ensure its integrity and measure its contribution in national income accounting to improve decision making, investments in conservation and protection of natural resources and biodiversity”.

And so, “towards this end, the State shall establish a Maharlika Investment Fund by investing national funds, and coordinating and strengthening the investment activities of the country’s top performing government financial institutions to promote economic growth and social development.
So basically the law will allow the government to use its money to invest in certain activities and transactions in the hope of generating so called “optimal returns on investments” which as claimed
will ensure sustainable development. Now when we talk about investments nothing is really sure or absolute about.

That is why in section 26 of the said Senate Bill it talks about the creation of a risk management committee whose job is to ensure that the Maharlika Investment Corporation (MIC) is taking
steps to achieve an appropriate balance between risk and reward in the investments to be made and shall carefully consider risk identification, measurement and assessment, mitigation, as well as reporting and monitoring. Quite obviously where investments are concerned there are risks
involved aplenty. But let us divert to a more pressing issue with respect to the MIF and the MIC in relation to the funds that it will use for investment.

Under Section 6 of Senate Bill No. 2020 the MIC shall have an authorized capital stock of five hundred billion pesos. Now that is a lot of peoples’ money to put into the MIF and to be utilized by the MIC. Essentially therefore it becomes imperative for the people to guard and monitor where this money will be invested. Taking a look at the Senate Bill itself we find that the Senators and
Congressmen adopted several measures that would serve supposedly serve as a check and balance for the future actions of the MIF and MIC. Notable among these are the following: Sec. 39. “Right to freedom of information of the public. – All documents of the MIF and the MIC, shall be open, available, and accessible to the public, as may be allowed by law, in both English and Filipino xxx”.

So the public has a right to access documents from the MIF and MIC, and this includes of course, Statement of assets and liabilities of the Directors, Section 38 meanwhile creates the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee task to oversee, monitor and evaluate the implementation of the said law. The Act apparently also subscribes to the so called “Santiago Principles” which refers to 24 generally accepted principles and practices followed by Sovereign Wealth Fund members. These are rules that are “supposed to promote stability in the global financial system, set proper controls on investment risks and implement sound governance structure”.

Finally, for those found in violation of the provisions of the said Act there are fines ranging from five million to seven million pesos (willful concealment of a ground for disqualification), perpetual
disqualification from office, and when the violation is injurious to the public the penalty shall be ten to fifteen million pesos. There is even a section in the bill which talks about retaliation against
whistleblowers “where any person who, knowingly and with intent to retaliate, commits acts detrimental to a whistleblower such as interfering with the lawful employment or livelihood of the
whistleblower, shall, at the discretion of the court, be punished with a fine ranging from [one hundred thousand pesos to one million pesos and imprisonment of six years. Let us hope and pray
that the MIF and the MIC redounds to the benefit of the people and the country.

Amianan Balita Ngayon