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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Pimentel, ex-solons file petition vs. Maharlika

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Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III and former lawmakers of Bayan Muna party-list filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to declare the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) unconstitutional and void.

In a 56-page petition for certiorari and prohibition, the petitioners challenged the MIF on three grounds: violation of economic viability, violation of BSP independence, and violation of the three readings requirement for legislative measures.

AGAINST MAHARLIKA. Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares is flanked by former Bayan Muna lawmakers Carlos Isagani Zarate (right) and Ferdinand Gaite (left) after they file a petition before the Supreme Court challenging the legality of the Maharlika Investment Fund on Monday. Danny Pata

Pimentel, who was joined by Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares and former Bayan Muna lawmakers Carlos Zarate and Ferdinand Gaite as petitioners in the case, also sought the issuance of a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction, or a status quo ante order to immediately enjoin the implementation of the law.

Named respondents in the petition were Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, the House of Representatives, and the Senate.

Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra, for his part, said the filing of such a petition was expected “in view of the public interest” generated by the MIF.

“The OSG has been keenly following the public debates about the fund to determine what legal issues of transcendental importance, if any, may be raised before the Supreme Court,” Guevarra said.

The petitioners said the MIF failed to satisfy the test of economic viability as only a three-page business proposal for the MIF was submitted to comply with the test of economic viability.

“Although it is true that the Business Proposal of the Maharlika Investment Corporation reflected promising estimated returns for the next ten (10) years, the computation on which the estimated returns were based was not even provided in order for Congress, and also the public, to study and review such basis,” the petitioners said.

“With the simple submission of a three-page business proposal without the basis of computation of the return on equity, the requirement of economic viability will be easily circumvented,” they added.

The petitioners also argued the MIF violates the independence of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas as it is required to contribute 100% of its total declared dividends to the sovereign wealth fund for its first and second fiscal years.

“The Bangko Sentral is now obligated to earn not for itself but for the Maharlika Investment Corporation,” the petitioners added.

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