As expected, the Maharlika Investment Fund Bill was passed by both houses of Congress, the controversies despite, in record time.
Like previous Presidents who can make things happen if they wanted to, PBBM clearly showed his clout in this undertaking and he did not even have to do any overt arm twisting to any lawmaker to get it done.
But judging from what we are reading in the papers, the fight is not yet over. Critics of the bill will almost certainly bring the issue to the Supreme Court when it becomes a law.
In the meantime, supporters and critics alike will be battling it out in the court of public opinion to promote views.
Senator Koko Pimentel, one of those who opposed the bill, started even when the ink was not yet dry by asking the President to veto the bill which obviously is not going to happen.
NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balicasan, who initially kept quiet when the MIF was proposed, came out giving his thumbs up to the MIF, touting its benefits to the country.
This was followed by Finance Secretary Ben Diokno, who, speaking ex-cathedra like the Pope who is infallible when it comes to faith and morals, pronounced that the BSP will remain stable in spite of its earnings going to the MIF and there is nothing to fear.
He also said all the negative comments are simply panic reactions.
He came out as the most outspoken advocate of MIF.
Since he is the main money man of the government and has spoken ex-cathedra, maybe we should all chill and take his word for it.
As I have written a few months ago, there is nothing inherently wrong with the establishment of an investment or sovereign fund for the country.
Other countries like Norway have one which has grown to over a trillion dollars and is now benefiting the country.
Others like Malaysia became the milking cow of certain corrupt politicians resulting in one former Prime Minister going to jail with his wife.
Let us hope that if the MIF will finally hurdle all the objections together with a possible Supreme Court challenge, that it will indeed benefit the whole country and people instead of a few enterprising corrupt public officials who might try to dip their fingers into the cookie jar.
If one goes over the provisions of the proposed law, they appear to have good intentions.
But what is bothersome to most people is that time and again our political leaders have shown they have a very poor track record when it comes to handling huge amounts of public funds.
It is also worrisome when high ranking government officials would aggressively come out guaranteeing the soundness of an untested undertaking as if they can foretell what will happen in the years to come.
We should all remember that old aphorism that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Let me cite a couple of examples.
One is the Coconut Levy Fund established during the Martial Law years.
The intention of the CLF was to accumulate funds to benefit the tens of thousands of coconut farmers who continued to live in poverty.
At that time, copra was one of our biggest agricultural exports.
But almost 50 years later, where are all those funds that have been collected?
Does anyone even know exactly how much money there is or if the intended beneficiaries ever received anything at all?
I say the beneficiaries are people other than the coconut farmers for whom the CLF was intended.
The other example was the well-meant PDAF program.
The PDAF was supposed to allow lawmakers to allocate funds that they control to benefit their constituents. Unfortunately, as it is often the case, the funds went to the wrong beneficiaries.
To be fair, cases were filed in court, ending in some lawmakers spending time in jail but, in the end, their cases were dismissed and the conduit and facilitator is the one languishing in jail.
Unfortunately, when it comes to money cases, usually the little Indians end up spending time in jail and the masterminds getting off the hook.
Of course, Congress believes it has put enough safeguards in the bill to deter would-be corrupt officials down the line who will not be afraid of raiding the funds for other purposes.
But there are doubters in this regard.
For one, after PBBM gave his assurance that pension funds will not be used to capitalize the MIF, Secretary Ben Diokno comes out from out of the blue to create a tempest by saying that both SSS and GSIS can in fact invest in the MIF.
So, what is really the score? Will SSS and GSIS funds be used or not? Whom should the public believe now?
We do not know if the good Secretary misspoke, overstepped his mandate or just simply duplicitous but the integrity of that government has now been put into question.
He will now have a lot of explaining to do for contradicting what PBBM said and putting him on the spot.
He will also have to soothe the feelings of many lawmakers who are now understandably furious for rekindling what was supposed to have been a settled issue.
If there is anything to take from what Ben Diokno just did, it is that it strengthens the hands of those against.
Let us hope this can be corrected and the correction will be believed by the public. Otherwise, there will be problems.