Duterte: Bicol first to get road tax funds once Road Board is abolished
President Rodrigo Duterte wants to use funds from the multibillion road user’s tax for flood control projects in Bicol, which suffered severe flooding and landslides due to Tropical Depression “Usman.”
“My promise to you is that once the road tax money is free, you will be the first recipient of the projects,” the President said during a situation briefing in Pili, Camarines Sur, on Friday.
He also reiterated his support for the abolition of the Road Board because of the massive corruption in the agency.
“I will talk to the Senate President and the House Speaker. I have no objection if they abolish it. It cannot remain because of the cursed corruption,” Mr. Duterte said.
The President spoke after conducting an aerial inspection of areas devastated by Usman late last month.
Disaster management officials told Mr. Duterte that the storm had left 122 dead, 28 missing, 60 injured as of Friday in Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Bicol Region and the Visayas.
So far, 75,326 families or 308,451 individuals, had been affected by Usman, which damaged 2,896 houses in those regions, they said.
‘You have a beautiful VP’
Speaking in jest, the President said he would prioritize Bicol’s flood control and disaster rehabilitation because Vice President Leni Robredo hailed from the region.
“The reason why I gave you priority is you have a beautiful Vice President, Leni. She’s really beautiful,” he said.
He also quipped that weather disturbances should also be named after Leni, Bernadette, after Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, and Leonor, for Education Secretary Leonor Briones.
The President also promised to build disaster-resilient homes in safer areas in Bicol to keep people away from landslide- and flood-prone areas.
He said he was working for the release of P46 billion to be used in building at least 300 houses in the region.
“There is a fund that we are looking into. If it can be freed, I will ask Ed (housing czar Eduardo del Rosario) to initiate [the construction of] some houses in places which you think are safe,” Mr. Duterte said.
“I am ready to spend money to improve topography to make it safe to build houses, or to move them away from danger areas,” he added.