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MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading the bill that would abolish the graft-riddled Road Board.
Legislators voted 180-0-0 in favor of House Bill No. (HB) 7436 on on Monday, January 21, just 5 days after the lower chamber approved the measure on second reading. (READ: Congress ends deadlock on Road Board abolition)
The bill would abolish the Road Board, the collegial body that manages funds from motor vehicle user’s charge (MVUC) or road users’ tax, as the agency does not get allocation from the national budget.
The road users’ tax is meant to be used for road maintenance and air pollution control projects only.
HB 7436 would not only abolish the Road Board – which has long been accused of corruption – but also transfer the MVUC to the General Fund. This means government revenue from MVUC would be covered by the General Appropriations Act, subject to Congress’ approval and scrutiny.
The Senate already approved the Road Board abolition bill, adopting the same version that the House previously passed under ousted speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. But when Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo became the new Speaker, the House withdrew its support for the bill.
A standoff between the two chambers of Congress ensued, until President Rodrigo Duterte himself clarified he wants the Road Board abolished. The House yielded, but former House majority leader Rolando Andaya Jr said a new version of the bill will have to be passed.
Andaya then met with Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto last week to settle both chambers’ issues on the Road Board abolition bill.
The Commission on Audit earlier found that the agency misappropriated P90.7 billion worth of funds from road user’s tax collections. In 2018, congressmen and district engineers requested P1.958 billion worth of projects under the Road Board, but the money was not released to them. – Rappler.com