Reform, transparency win in consensus to abolish Road Board

MANILAReal reform and transparency are the winners in the consensus reached between the House of Representatives and the Senate on the "genuine abolition" of the Road Board, House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said Wednesday.

During a meeting among Andaya, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto Tuesday night, it was agreed on that the Road Board would be abolished and all monies collected under the road users' tax would be remitted to the National Treasury.

These would then be used for construction, repair, and rehabilitation of roads, bridges, and road drainage under the annual General Appropriations Act.

Common sense and real reform are winners in the agreement to genuinely abolish the Road Board ... It is a victory for transparency too, Andaya said in a statement.

Andaya said the present House leadership has long advocated for a real abolition of the Road Board, and not the "fake abolition" that was pushed by the previous leadership.

We have long advocated for a real, and not the fake abolition of the Road Board. The version that was pushed by the previous House leadership merely created Three Powerful Road Kings, Andaya said.

The Camarines Sur lawmaker was referring to the secretaries of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Transportation (DOTr), and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The present House leadership, on the other hand, insisted in treating MVUC (motor vehicles users' charge) collections as part of General Fund, and not as an off-budget, hidden account, controlled by a few, a status retained by the previous bill, Andaya said.

He said while the "spurious" Road Board abolition bill inserted a provision that would have diverted funds to waste segregation, the current leadership stood its ground in earmarking MVUC collections for transport-related activities.

The House-Senate consensus spared the President of signing a defective bill, which some powerful interests wanted him to. The attempt to hoodwink the President has been foiled, Andaya said.

In May, the House, under then Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, approved on third and final reading House Bill 7436 which seeks to abolish the Road Board.

Under the bill, instead of the Road Board managing proceeds from the MVUC, the collections shall be allocated in four special trust accounts in the National Treasury: 40 percent each for the Special National Road Support Fund and the Special Local Road Support Fund under the DPWH, 10 percent for the Special Pollution Control Fund under the DENR, and 10 percent for the Special Vehicle Pollution Control Fund under the DOTr.

On September 12, the Senate adopted HB 7436, supposedly allowing the bill to be immediately submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for his signature without going through a bicameral conference committee meeting.

On the same day however, the House, now led by Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, rescinded its approval of HB 7436, leading to an impasse.

With the consensus, Congressional leaders are now eyeing a quick bicameral conference committee meeting to introduce and approve the agreed amendments and send the final version of the bill for President Duterte's signature. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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