Department of Finance bucks Road Board abolition — House leader

December 21, 2018
Rolando Andaya Jr.
Rolando Andaya Jr.

EVEN the Department of Finance (DoF) is not in favor of abolishing the Road Board, Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said.

The stand of the DoF on the Road Board was clearly spelled out in a letter sent to Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo dated September 20 which showed increase in road user’s tax is among the priorities of the administration.

In a letter, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez enumerated the legislative measures that the economic managers wanted prioritized by Congress.  

These are Tax Amnesty; Increasing the excise tax on alcohol and tobacco products; Restructuring and Increasing the motor vehicles user charge (MVUC); Rationalizing capital income and financial taxes and Reforming property valuation and taxes.

Since the assumption of Arroyo as Speaker last July, the House processed about 1,361 bills, approved 492 of those measures including all the President’s priority measures.

“On item number 3, the stand of the DoF on the road users’ tax is clear: restructure and increase the motor vehicle user charge. The letter does not mention Road Board abolition,” Andaya said.

“Sa sulat na iyon, malinaw ang gusto ng DoF : taasan ang registration fees ng mga motorsiklo, kotse, truck, jeep, SUV at lahat ng motor vehicles. ‘Ni walang pahapyaw na buwagin ang Road Board,” Andaya said.

According to Andaya, the House is fully supportive of DoF’s stand of reforming the Road Board operations as well as the proper collections and utilization of the MVUC.

“But Diokno, on the other hand, is all over town telling our people that the President Rodrigo Dutrte wanted the abolition of the Road Board,” Andaya added.  

Andaya said Congress believes that Secretary Dominguez is speaking for the economic managers when he spelled out the government’s economic agenda.

“Now, who is telling the truth, Sec. Dominguez or Sec. Diokno? With regard to HB 7436 which they call “Road Board Abolition” bill, I maintain that Sec. Diokno is giving alternative facts to the President. The bill, I repeat, will not abolish the Road Board. Kahit saan mo tingnan, hindi binabanggit sa bill ang pagbuwag sa Road Board.

Andaya reiterated that the purpose of the bill is not to totally abolish the Road Board but only to create a Three Powerful Road Kings.         HB 7436 merely confers on the Three Road Kings — the   DPWH, DoTr and DENR secretaries – the absolute power to disburse the road users’ tax.

“Derecho ibibigay sa kanila at bahala na sila ang gumasta.    Each will have dictatorial powers over the funds. No oversight. Kasing klaro pa ng sikat ng araw na sa ilalim ng HB 7436, ang  pondo ay off-budget, hindi  transparent at  idedeposito sa  special trust funds under the control of the Road Board Kings,” he said.

Andaya then challenged Diokno to a public debate so that people will know who is telling the truth.

Right of way

Gabriela party-list Rep. Emile de Jesus has joined the majority solons in slamming Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno over the alleged budget insertions.

De Jesus described Diokno as Santa Claus as he favored politicians and contractors through ensuring insertions worth P75 billion in infrastructure projects in the proposed 2019 budget and with over P50 billion in right-of-way (ROW) allocation. 

During the question hour at the House of Representatives, Secretary Diokno admitted the P75-billion insertion in the proposed 2019 budget of the Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH), and that the insertion was made by the DBM.

“This confirms the undying infrastructure largesse in the national budget from which favored politicians and partner contractors rake in billions, even as social services are kept poorly funded.’’