It's Final: Road Board's 'Genuine Abolition' Bill is Approved
The Senate and House of Representatives have finally settled on approving the amended Road Board Abolition Bill, following weeks of indecision among lawmakers. "Reform and transparency" were their common consensus when they decided to approve the bill.
"Common sense and real reform are winners in the agreement to genuinely abolish the Road Board. It is a victory for transparency too," House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said in a statement.
He also added that 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.
House Bill 7436
The Road Board Abolition Bill seeks not just to end the notoriously corrupt Road Board Agency, but also to re-direct the funds it takes from road users' tax (or the Motor Vehicle User's Charge [MVUC>) to the General Fund.
House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr., Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, have agreed to remit the road users' tax to the National Treasury. Under this rule, revenue taken from the MVUC should first undergo Congress' approval before they're used by the government.
All MVUCs will still be used for construction, repair, and rehabilitation of roads, bridges, and road drainage under the General Appropriations Act.
According to the government's news agency, congressional leaders are now planning to do 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."
What is the Road Board?
The Road Board is an office that makes sure funds taken from the MVUC will be prudently and efficiently used for the government's transport-related projects. It is made up of the Secretaries of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Transportation (DOTr), Budget and Management (DBM), and Finance (DOF), as ex officio members, and three representatives of private transport organizations. The Secretary of Public Works and Highways is the ex-officio Chairman of the Road Board.
Over the years, the Road Board has been subjected to controversy over its fund control and allocation. It has been accused of misusing funds, and accused by the Commission on Audit of misappropriating around PHP90.7 billion in road users' tax. The country's MVUC funds is currently at around P45 billion.