Road Board abolition now up for Duterte’s signature

Camille Elemia
Road Board abolition now up for Duterte’s signature
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri eyes the transmittal of the bill to President Rodrigo Duterte by early February

MANILA, Philippines – After weeks of impasse in Congress, the bill abolishing the corruption-laden Road Board is now ready for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.

The Senate on Tuesday, January 22, adopted the version passed by the House on Monday. This means there will be no bicameral conference committee because there are no differences between the two versions. The bill is now up for enrolment and, soon, for Duterte’s signature.

“It will be enrolled this week. Hopefully by next week or latest 1st week of February, it will be with the President,” Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said in a mix of English and Filipino.

The bill, once signed into law, would abolish the Road Board, the 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.

Prior to the approval, the Senate and the House were in a standoff, after the House, under the new leadership of Speaker Gloria Arroyo, rescinded its earlier approval of the bill pushed by her predecessor Pantaleon Alvarez.

Former House majority leader Rolando Andaya Jr met with Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto last week to settle both chambers’ issues. 

Congress leaders eventually agreed to amend the earlier approved version, primarily to transfer road users’ tax funds to the General Fund. This was contrary to the earlier approved bill that allows funds to be managed by the Department of Public Works and Highways.

The road users’ tax is meant to be used for road maintenance and air pollution control projects but has been widely used for alleged corruption. 

The Commission on Audit earlier found that the agency misappropriated P90.7-billion worth of funds from road users’ 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. –

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a former multimedia reporter for Rappler. She covered media and disinformation, the Senate, the Office of the President, and politics.