By Hannah Torregoza
The controversial measure seeking the abolition of the Road Board is now waiting for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.
The Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) had earlier transmitted to Malacañang, House Bill No. 7436, which was adopted by the Senate to dispense with the bicameral conference, last February 8.
The measure would lapse into law if the President failed to act on it after 30 days.
The possibility of the measure being vetoed by the President is nil as it was Duterte himself who asked Congress to legislate the abolition of the Road Board.
It is 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.
In 2017, Duterte called on Congress to abolish the Road Board as part of the government’s effort to streamline services and stop corruption in the agency, noting that 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 Sotto III, who backed the abolition of the agency, had also said the agency is collecting about P12-billion a year in road users’ taxes, adding that COA has questioned the use of about P90-billion of the over P160-billion fund last year.
From 2001 to May 2018, the total collection for MVUC reached P166.18-billion. At least P136.87-billion of that amount have been released. Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno had said the Board still has an unspent MVUC fund of P45-billion.
Once abolished, the road users’ tax would be remitted to the National Treasury to fund priority programs and projects of the government.
Congress, through the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA), will decide the allocation of the fund.