Press Statement
31 May 2023

Migrante-International is one with the broad ranks of Filipinos opposing the Bongbong Marcos regime’s proposed Maharlika Investment Fund. We condemn Marcos for certifying the Senate Bill as urgent and his top dogs in the Senate such as Migz Zubiri, Mark Villar and Bato dela Rosa for following his dictate. That bill creating the PhP 500-billion should be junked immediately, not prioritized for passage.

The red flags in this proposal are too numerous, especially for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and migrant Filipinos, who with our financial remittances keep the Philippine economy afloat. A provision in the Senate Bill may allow OFW and workers’ funds in the Social Security System, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, and others to become sources of the fund. At the same time, how the investment fund will actually generate returns on investment remains unclear; and this means OFW and workers’ funds are being made vulnerable to corruption, mismanagement and even bankruptcy. The OWWA fund is not a stranger to these, especially under the presidency of Marcos ally Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. 

The proposed fund will also draw from the national government, depriving OFWs and workers of much-needed services. Amidst crises, conflicts and uncertainties in various parts of the world, we Filipinos who were exported by our government and were forced to leave the country because of joblessness and landlessness need many and increasing services: personnel to attend to our needs, shelters for the distressed in our ranks, repatriation services, and various forms of financial assistance. 

Even the current proposal that the funds be sourced from the Land Bank of the Philippines, the Development Bank of the Philippines, and the Central Bank of the Philippines will deprive farmers and small businessmen of sources of loans. It is not clear how infrastructure projects, on which the Maharlika Investment Fund will supposedly be spent, can generate returns on investment. Furthermore, infrastructure financing as a way to pump-prime the economy has been the strategy of many governments, but the country remains underdeveloped and infrastructure remains poor. Infrastructure projects create temporary precarious jobs while infrastructure funds have always been marred with corruption.

The Maharlika Investment Fund aims to attract foreign investments to enter into the country and is therefore entails tightening foreign control over the economy. It is telling that the Senate Bill allows foreigners to invest into the fund while the people, through Congress, will be denied the power to identify and allocate funds to priority infrastructure projects. It is clear that the Maharlika Investment Fund should be called Maharlika Investment Scam, and will only benefit foreign and local elites. 

If the government is really serious in improving services and taking measures that will genuinely and immediately benefit the people, and wants a clear source of available funds, there is one policy that it can urgently implement: tax the rich! The billionaire tax being proposed by independent think-tank Ibon Foundation, for example, will generate Php468.8 billion every year and still leave these billionaires profiting from workers’ hard work and misery with immense wealth. Trickle-down economics has been proven false especially in the Philippines, and the government must take action to make the wealth on the top of society really trickle down to the majority. 

Ultimately, the government’s lack of funds and the need for the economy to be “pump-primed” are traceable to the country’s lack of development, which can only be achieved if the government develops agriculture and national industries with the help of small and medium enterprises. These are also the measures that we OFWs and Filipino migrants have been demanding the government to take in order to generate decent jobs at home, and end the country’s need to export cheap labor.

Migrante-International calls on all OFWs and Filipino migrants from across the political spectrum and all groupings to unite and act to assert our call: Junk the Maharlika Investment Scam!