By Mario Casayuran
As a former Senate President who partly oversaw the creation of the Road Board, Juan Ponce Enrile threw yesterday his support for President Duterte’s wish to abolish the Road Board amid allegations of corruption and misuse of tens of billions of pesos of the agency.
“I support the move of President Duterte to strike down the road board. I think it has lost its original direction and usefulness,” he said.
Enrile oversaw the creation of the Road Board as then chairman of the Senate finance committee.
He explained that the agency had lost its original purpose as mandated in Republic Act (RA) 8794 to utilize funds from the road user’s tax or Motor Vehicle User’s Charge (MVUC) to ensure adequate maintenance of national and provincial roads.
“I participated in its creation when I was the chairman of the finance committee of the Senate. The road user tax fund under the administration and control of the road board was designed to provide the money to maintain and repair our national roads,” he said.
RA 8794 that created the Road Board was enacted into law by then President Joseph Estrada in 2000.
Enrile, who is now seeking a comeback to the Senate in the 2019 midterm elections, added, “It seems the original goal was forgotten and the system is now being abused.”
The Road Board, a collegial body led by the Secretaries of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Department of Transportation (DOTr), the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), and the Department of Finance (DOF), had recently been mired in controversy because of allegations of corruption.
According to the Commission on Audit (COA), the agency had misappropriated about P90.7 billion collected from the MVUC.
For this reason, Enrile said he agrees with President Duterte’s plan to abolish the agency and place the road user’s tax collections in the hands of the National Treasury.
Furthermore, the former Senate chief signified that, if elected, he wants to bring attention to the role of lawmakers in addressing the worsening traffic situation, particularly in Metro Manila.
“Legislators can help by crafting incentive laws to decongest metropolitan Manila,” he said.
The solution, according to Enrile, will “essentially involve city planning”.
“The government can construct more elevated throughways all over Metro Manila and wider entry and exit roads below. More bridges across the Pasig River are needed,” he shared.
The veteran lawmaker is also pushing for the construction of “more railways, water transports, and throughways outside urbanized cities” to ease the burden of commuters around the country.