The Philippine Congress approved on Wednesday the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill, following months of intense debates at the Senate, with the upper chamber finally relenting to the bill’s provision barring the country’s pension funds from investing in it.

When the Senate voted on the bill, the House of Representatives promptly adopted it in an apparent bid to fastrack the bicameral process of finalizing the bill for the president’s concurrence.

The MIF was one of the current administration’s main legislative agenda, with the idea of providing a mechanism to use public funds to invest in markets and projects. It triggered heated debates after initial provisions were introduced in the House version assigning SSS and GSIS, including the Central Bank, to invest in the MIF.

On Wednesday, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. told Malacanang reporters that the national government will not be using state pension funds to put up the MIF, but qualified it by adding that the management of public companies still have the option to invest in it.

“We will not use it as a seed fund. However, if a pension fund, which is what pension funds do, is they invest. If the pension fund decides that Maharlika fund is a good investment, it’s up to them if they want to invest in it,” he added.

Opposition lawmakers have decried the MIF as a scheme that will allow the President full discretion over public funds without congressional oversight.

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