Road Board kaput soon

February 17, 2019
Rodrigo R. Duterte
Rodrigo R. Duterte

THE graft-ridden Road Board Regulatory Agency is expected to be abolished as soon as President Rodrigo Duterte signs into law a measure that seeks to dissolve the controversial agency.

House Bill 7436, which was adopted by the Senate to dispense with the bicameral conference, was transmitted last February 8 by the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office to Malacañang for President Duterte's signature.

The measure would lapse into law if the President failed to act on it after 30 days.

The possibility of the bill being vetoed by Duterte is nil as it was the President himself who asked Congress to legislate the abolition of the Road Board, which manages funds from the Motor Vehicle User's Charge (MVUC) that are supposed to be used exclusively for road maintenance and improvement of road drainage, installation of traffic lights and road safety devices, as well as air pollution control.

Duterte said billions of revenue from the road user's tax had found its way to corrupt officials' pockets. Even the Commission on Audit (CoA) has consistently flagged the utilization of MVUC funds.

Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto also said the agency is collecting about P12 billion a year in road users' taxes. CoA has questioned the use of about P90 billion of the over P160 billion fund last year, he added.

From 2001 to May 2018, the total collection for MVUC reached P166.18 billion. At least P136.87 billion of that amount has been released.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the board still has an unspent MVUC fund of P45 billion.

In 2017, the President called on Congress to abolish the Road Board as part of the government's effort to streamline services and stop corruption in the agency.

On January 22 this year, upon the motion of Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, the Senate adopted HB 7426 as an amendment to Senate Bill 1620 to dispense with the bicameral conference.

With the abolition of the Road Board, both the Senate and the House of Representatives agreed to remit the road users' tax to the National Treasury to fund priority programs and projects of the government.

The allocation of the fund will be decided by Congress through the annual General Appropriations Act.