Duterte to sign bill scrapping Road Board amid corruption allegations

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DAVAO CITY (December 19)— President Rodrigo Duterte will surely sign the bill to scrap the graft-ridden  Road Board “as soon as” it is submitted to him, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesperson  Salvador Panelo said the President supports the abolition of the Road Board. A measure to abolish the Road Board has been approved by the Congress and the Senate saying the agency is graft-ridden.

“Yes. Iyun ang kailangan eh (That’s what’s needed). We want the funds be returned to the treasury and let Congress appropriate again for a specific purpose,” said Panelo in a Palace press briefing.

Panelo said Duterte is just waiting for the official transmittal of the bill.

The Senate adopted the House version of the bill on Sept. 12. Later that day, however, the House, led by Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, passed a motion voiding its version of the bill, which was passed during the time of former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

The House of Representatives has unanimously passed the bill seeking to abolish the controversial Road Board, bringing the measure closer to approval by Duterte.

On May 16, this year, the House voted 172-0 to approve House Bill No. 7436, which aims to shut down the Road Board, on third and final reading.

The Road Board’s personnel, as well as its rights, assets, and liabilities, would be transferred to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), according to the bill.

Former  House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, during his term,  had sought the agency’s abolition over long-standing corruption allegations.

Alvarez cited the Commission on Audit’s findings that the board’s P90.72-billion fund have been illegally used from 2001 to 2012.

The Road Board was born via Republic Act 8794 otherwise known as An Act Imposing a Motor Vehicle User’s Charge On Owners of All Types of Motor Vehicles and for other Purposes.

The law mandates the agency to “Provide for and ensures the adequate maintenance of national and provincial roads through sufficient funding for the purpose and in this light mandates the Road Board, to implement the prudent and efficient management and utilization of the special funds earmarked solely for the purpose of road maintenance and improvement of road drainage, installation of adequate traffic light and road safety devices and air pollution control.”

But lawmakers and senators claim, the office failed to deliver its mandate and it has become graft-ridden,

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier said he received a directive from President Rodrigo Duterte not to release MVUC funds lodged in the National Treasury as of Nov. 30, amounting to some P45 billion, pending the abolition of the Road Board.

Panelo said the Palace is still against the release of the PHP45-billion road user’s tax or known as the motor vehicle user’s charge (MVUC).

Panelo said the road user’s tax should be returned to the Treasury and “then let Congress appropriate again for specific purpose”.

Meanwhile, Panelo refused to give “categorical statement”   on  Alvarez’s claim that the Road Board abolition has something to do with some congressmen’s call to fire Diokno over alleged insertions in the PHP3.7-trillion proposed 2019 national budget.

“It could be. We don’t know exactly the reason why. That’s the statement of former speaker Alvarez. We can only speculate,” Panelo said.-ezc with report from PNA


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