The Supreme Court (SC) has required both the Executive and Legislative branches to comment on the petition seeking to declare as unconstitutional Republic Act (RA) No. 11954 or the Maharlika Investment Fund Act of 2023.
During its en banc session on Tuesday, the SC resolved to ask Malacanang and Congress to comment in 10 days on the petition and on the plea for a temporary restraining order to stop the respondents from implementing RA 11954.
The law on the country’s first-ever sovereign investment fund was signed by President Marcos last July 18. The fund will be managed by the Maharlika Investment Corporation (MIC) which now has a seed capital of P150 billion.
Executive Secretary Lucas P. Bersamin, Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno, the House of Representatives, and the Senate, were named respondents in the petition.
The petition was by Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, former congressman and Bayan Muna Chairman Neri Javier Colmenares, and former Bayan Muna congressmen Carlos Isagani Zarate and Ferdinand Gaite.
The petition cited three “serious grounds” in seeking the unconstitutionality of Maharlika Investment Fund Act, namely: “RA 11954 is void because it was passed in violation of Section 26 (2), Article VI, of the 1987 Constitution; the test of economic viability as mandated under Section 16, Article XII of the Constitution was not complied with prior to the creation of the Maharlika Investment Corporation; and RA 11954 violates the independence of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas as provided for under Section 20, Article XII of the Constitution.”
On alleged violation of Section 26 (2), Article VI of the Constitution, the petition claimed that “the Presidential certification of the Maharlika Bill in the House of Representatives and Senate did not comply with the constitutional requirement” and since the bill was not enacted in accordance with the Constitution, it “therefore did not become a law.”
The petitioners stressed that the Maharlika Investment Fund Act of 2023 requires intense congressional scrutiny, genuine consultation with stakeholders, and a careful study by independent economic experts.
“Both Houses of Congress, however, went on the opposite direction and rushed the Maharlika bills and short-circuited the constitutionally mandated legislative processes, through an unnecessary and constitutionally infirm Presidential certification of urgency,” the petitioners lamented.
On Monday, Finance Secretary Diokno said the MIC could be operational by the first quarter of 2024.
“The list of candidates for the positions, the president and CEO (chief executive officer) of the council, the two regular directors and three independent directors that has been prepared already and will probably be sent to the President within the week,” Diokno said.
“So, once we have organized, I think that would take another quarter, and maybe we will be off and running maybe the first quarter of next year,” he said.
When asked on the budget for MIC, Diokno said: “It’s already complete, P75 billion plus there’s a P31 billion declared dividend by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). We can also use that.”