‘That can wait’: Jinggoy Estrada questions House railroading of Maharlika Wealth Fund bill

(POLITIKO) Senator Jinggoy Estrada questioned Saturday (December 3) the House of Representatives’ rush to pass the bill creating a Philippine sovereign wealth fund, with investments pooled from contributions of state-run pension funds and government financial institutions.

In a radio interview, Estrada said House Bill 6398 creating the Maharlika Wealth Fund (MWF) should be scrutinized closely. He said he has several questions about the MWF, including the fund sources and whether it’s safe to invest pension funds in high risk investments.

“If they’re going to get it from GSIS, SSS, are we going to risk the pensions of our pensioners? Bakit nagmamadali na maaprubahan ito bago magbakasyon eh marami pa tayong katanungan ukol dyan sa Maharlika Wealth Fund na ‘yan,” he said.

Estrada said there should be enough safeguards in place to prevent a controversy similar to Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal, where the state-owned investment fund was used to finance the lavish lifestyle of former Prime Minister Najib Razak.

With only two weeks left before Congress goes on Christmas break, Estrada said it’s unlikely for the Senate to start tackling the proposed creation of the MWF.

“That is my opinion right now. Kasi bakit naman minamadali? We only have two weeks to go and this entails a lot of funds, this amounts to P275 billion. ‘Yung budget nga ng Pilipinas tatlong linggo naming pinag-uusapan, pinag dedebatehan, ito pa kayang P275 billion? Madalian? That can wait naman,” he said.

Estrada backed Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri’s position to have the proposal studied carefully by a select group of senators.

“Kaya naman tayo hinalal bilang mga senador para makita kung ano ‘yung mga loopholes. Kung talagang kinakailangan at aprubado naman sa both Houses at merong necessary safeguards saka safety nets sa MWF, why not? Kung makakatulong naman sa ating kababayan,” he said.