Asian Century Journal

An Asian Century Philippines Publication

Same Old, Same Old: Lower House Files Potential Plunder Bill

 

By Adolfo Quizon Paglinawan

 

Here are at least 13 reasons why the passage of House Bill 6398 (Maharlika Investment Fund/PH Sovereign Wealth Fund) must be stopped.

This is now viralling in social media.

We don’t want the fox to guard the chicken coop, di ba? Mauubos ang manok!

1.The bill has no clear and solid provision for ample worker/employee representation in the fund’s governing body, considering that a bulk of the fund will technically come from GSIS and SSS members’ pooled contributions. Pera natin ‘yun pero wala tayong representasyon!

2. Land Bank and DBP funds will also be used for the fund. That would drastically limit the funds which the said government banks could lend to MSMEs (the backbone of our economy, in terms of jobs creation) and ordinary citizens.

3. GSIS & SSS are able to invest pooled members’ contributions into so many things even without the sovereign fund in place. Bill would only further bloat existing bureaucracy that gobbles up millions if not billions of unnecessary administrative expenses. Bloated bureaucracy = BAD!

4. The bill’s limit on administrative and operating expenses is not good enough. Pera natin, gagamiting pampasarap ng mga bulukrata na wala namang alam at walang ginagawang para sa bayan. NO WAY!

5. The bill allows investments on “Financial derivatives”. THESE ARE HIGH-RISK INVESTMENTS! Have they forgotten 2008? For starters, watch “The Big Short” (2015), or listen to Fascinating Aida’s “The Market.” We could lose everything, mind you.

6. The bill’s mention of investments on “Listed or unlisted equities…” and “Joint ventures or co-Investments” may seem innocent but these can actually be used to favor big business interests of corporations with links to ruling dynasties. Remember, wala tayo sa Norway.

7. “Third party fees and all charges incurred in connection with the establishment and management of the MIF” which will be charged to the fund sounds so fishy and unnecessary, especially without ample caps and limitations in the bill.

8. Honoraria and allowances and reimbursements for the fund’s bureaucrats are unacceptable, especially that most of them will certainly come from salaried govt or corporate posts too. Sobrang garapal na ‘yan!

9. The bill has no mechanism to directly give profits to citizens (especially SSS and GSIS members). Profits would instead be channeled to the government financial institutions. And the profits are not even guaranteed ha.

10. As the bill allows the fund to draw from the annual General Appropriations Act or supplemental appropriations, this can possibly reduce available funds for vital social services such as healthcare, education, housing etc.

11. The bill contains no provision to prioritize investments on “green” jobs creation (especially in the renewable energy sector), agricultural modernization, and industrialization, which could potentially limit any real national benefits from the fund’s operations. Para saan pa?

12. The bill’s provision on rewards and incentives for bureaucrats is capricious and dangerous without stronger provisions on public accountability of the fund’s administrators. Again, remember, Norway lost $174 billion in its sovereign fund this year. In Malaysia, its former prime minister Najib Razak is going to jail for wasting their 1Mb fund.

13. Putting that bulk of money in the hands of basically one person, the president of the Philippines without the participation of legislative line allocation, and on one who has not yet defined the roadmap to where he is leading the country to, is a sure formula to dark prospects.

I have a first-hand knowledge of a Malaysian-Chinese investor who recently wants to borrow money in the Philippines with a sovereign fund guarantee from another country. They went shopping for loans first with Landbank, then Hongkong Shanghai, and others, to no avail. It shows that even the banking industry does not honor these papers.

REPLACE AND REFORM YOUR ECONOMIC TEAM, MR. PRESIDENT! New wine cannot be lumped with old wine in wineskins. Mark 2:22. Or bottles. Matthew 9:17.

LET US BUILD OUR ECONOMY instead by lowering those towering energy costs and boosting agro-industrial productivity, and reward those who positively contribute to development.

IF WE HAVE INSUFFICIENT FUNDS TO RUN THIS ECONOMY, WHY ARE WE GIVING BILLIONS IN AYUDA TO NON-PRODUCTIVE SECTORS OF OUR SOCIETY? Pantawid pamilya is sure patronage politics pushed by a liberal economy which we cannot afford.

Enough of this same old, same old liberal economics that has imprisoned us since 1986 when the Americans retook control of our country through their yellow army and paled oligarchs.

If Marcos Jr. is short on cash, why doesn’t he instead tinker on his father’s hidden money and gold and repatriate it, as Ferdinand Sr. intended to bequeath 90% of that to the Filipino people?

 
<strong>Adolfo Quizon Paglinawan</strong>
Adolfo Quizon Paglinawan

is the anchor of Ang Maestro – the Unfinished Revolution at Radyo Pilipinas1, co-host of Opinyon Ngayon at Golden Nation Network Television, a political analyst, and author of books.

His third book, The Poverty of Power will soon be off-the-press. It is a historiography of controversial issues of spanning 36 years leading to the Demise of the Edsa Revolution and the Rise of the Philippine Phoenix.
Paglinawan’s past best sellers have been A Problem for Every Solution (2015), a characterization of factors affecting Philippine-China relations, and No Vaccine for a Virus called Racism (2020) a survey of international news attempting to tracing its origins.

These important achievements earned for him to be named one of the 2021 international laureates for the Awards for the Promotion of Philippine-China Understanding.

Ado, as he called for short, was a former press attaché and spokesman of the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC and the Philippines’ Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.

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