Published June 5, 2023 12:30pm
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s political influence that led to the immediate passage of the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF) bill must also be used to push for big infrastructure projects, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said Monday.
“The president has so much political capital and so much support from Congress that he can request overwhelming number of votes from both houses to create the Maharlika, then use that same political capital and political influence for the bridge, for the dam, for the roads,” Pimentel said in an ANC interview.
Pimentel pointed this out as he discussed the effects of the creation of a body that will insert the MIF to the regular bureaucracy and the annual budgetary process of the government. He mentioned that among the projects that is being eyed to be funded by the MIF is a bridge from Bataan to Cavite.
This, he said, can be funded by the annual General Appropriations Act — a law approved by Congress which funds all the government projects for a specific fiscal year.
Recently, Pimentel called on Marcos to veto the MIF bill as its current form still has “flaws” which he said are “consequences of haste.” He also branded the MIF as an “ill-conceived” legislation.
The MIF seeks to establish a sovereign wealth fund by tapping state assets.It is now up for Marcos’ approval after the House of Representatives adopted the Senate version of the measure during the bicameral conference last week.
In the same interview, Pimentel said discussing the problems in the Agriculture Department should not be avoided if Marcos wants to really give the public a real State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July.
“If he really gives the real SONA, then he cannot avoid mentioning all of these issues concerning agriculture and food — onion, pork, chicken, sugar, lalo na ‘yung (especially) sugar,” he said.
The lawmaker said these issues are “consequences” of not appointing an Agriculture secretary.
Marcos, who currently sits as Agriculture secretary, said in January that an agriculture expert would replace him as the DA secretary.
GMA News Online sought Malacanang’s comment on Pimentel’s statements but the senator has yet to respond as of posting time. –KBK, GMA Integrated News