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SENATE, HOUSE AGREEMENT

Road Board abolition now certain

The Senate and the House of Representatives have agreed “in principle” to abolish the Road Board as ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte, House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said  on Wednesday.

“We have agreed in principle that the Road Board will now be abolished and that [its] funds will be transferred to the general fund,” Andaya said at  a press briefing.

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Deal

Andaya said he met with his counterpart, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Tuesday night and came up with “short and simple” amendments to the proposed measure that would abolish the Road Board and ensure the proper use of its fund, which was officially known as the Motor Vehicle User’s Charge (MVUC).

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One amendment stated that all MVUC collections would go to the National Treasury and should be included in the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

A second amendment stated that the funds should be used for the construction, repair and rehabilitation of road drainages.

With the other senators and Congress leaders being amenable to the amendments, Zubiri said the bicameral conference was expected to take only a day.

No debate

“Only signatures are needed, no need to debate,” Zubiri said.

Andaya also expressed confidence that the 292-member House would be able to pass the abolition bill on third and final reading on Monday.

But the proposed law terminating the Road Board should be treated as a tax measure and not as an ordinary legislative intervention, Andaya added.

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The Road Board proved controversial after former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said that the abolition of the agency was behind the House move to attack Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno.

Some lawmakers wanted to control the road users’ tax, Alvarez said.

Earlier, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said his squabble with the House leadership was triggered by his decision not to release P42 billion in road users’ tax.

Process

Andaya said abolishing the Road Board meant that MVUC allocations now had to be discussed and approved by Congress as part of the annual GAA, instead of being left to the discretion of the so-called “three powerful Road Board kings.”

The Camarines Sur representative was referring to the secretaries of the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

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TAGS: House of Representatives, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Ralph Recto, Road Board, Rodrigo Duterte, Rolando Andaya Jr., Senate
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