President urged to resolve ‘stalemate’ on Road Board abolition | Inquirer News

President urged to resolve ‘stalemate’ on Road Board abolition

Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Thursday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to end the impasse between Malacañang and the House of Representatives over the abolition of the graft-ridden Road Board.

In a talk with Inquirer editors and reporters, Lacson described the situation as a “stalemate,” after the Senate adopted the House bill abolishing the Road Board, while the House rescinded the measure.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III had said he would submit the enrolled copy of the bill abolishing the Road Board to President Duterte without the signature of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.


Duterte for abolition


Both presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo and Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier said the President would sign the enrolled copy of the bill because he wanted the Road Board abolished due to corruption there.

But House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said the President told him and Arroyo in September that he would keep Road Board Executive Director Luisito Clavano and that the President consented to the distribution of revenue from the road user’s tax, or the motor vehicle user’s charge (MVUC).

The Palace had not responded to Andaya’s claims as of press time on Thursday.

“It’s time for the President to step in and break the impasse, the stalemate between the House and Malacañang at least, because Diokno was saying something different and Andaya was also saying something different,” Lacson said.

Mr. Duterte, he said, should also make his position clear whether he wanted the Road Board abolished.

Lacson said he did not think Diokno would say the President wanted the Road Board abolished if he had not talked to the chief executive.


Debate on HB 7436

Earlier on Thursday, Andaya dared Diokno to face him in a debate on House Bill No. 7436, which he said would give the authority of the Road Board to the secretaries of transportation, public works and highways, and environment, including control of the revenue from the road user’s tax, now estimated to be P45 billion.

Andaya also stood firm on his claim that President Duterte had actually given the go-signal for the Road Board to fund projects within its mandate.

“I got to talk to the President personally on the matter. Secretary Diokno is just assuming. This is not the time to second-guess the President,” Andaya said.

Diokno said he would not release the revenue from the road user’s tax, but Lacson said the budget secretary should be cautious because the congressmen could sue him for it.

Asked about Diokno’s statement that many congressmen, including Andaya, wanted the revenue from the road user’s tax released to their districts so they could use it for the midterm election campaign next year, Lacson said: “I can only say with certainty that funds coming out of the MVUC have been used mostly for graft-ridden, if not useless, projects since the time that it was implemented in 2001.”

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He added: “It is common knowledge and it’s surprising that nobody has been jailed yet for abusing the same in spite of adverse Commission on Audit findings on its misuse.” —With a report from Marlon Ramos

TAGS: Road Board, Rodrigo Duterte

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