Pimentel: Road Board an ‘avenue of graft, corruption’
Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III wants the Road Board abolished for “illegally diverting” billions in pesos of road user’s tax to “highly questionable” projects.
Pimentel, chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, said he would seek the repeal Republic Act No. 8794 which created the Road Board and orders owners of motorized vehicles to pay a tax called Motor Vehicle User’s Charge or MVUC.
In pushing for its abolition, the senator said the Road Board was just another layer of bureaucracy which became an “avenue for massive graft and corruption.”
The road user’s tax, he said, should also be abolished, saying it was a “redundant tax item” that was not fully utilized for the purpose it was created “but for suspicious projects.”
Pimentel said the road users’ tax funds should be re-channeled, instead, for much-needed infrastructure projects, and health and social services programs.
“The Road Board is tasked to manage and utilize the special road user’s funds exclusively for road maintenance and improvement of road drainage, installation of traffic lights and road safety devices and air pollution control,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
“But a Commission on Audit (COA) report showed that billions in pesos of the road user’s tax were illegally used for other highly-questionable purposes by the Road Board,” he pointed out.
Of the estimated P90.72 billion in road user’s tax collected from 2001 to December 2012, Pimentel said, only P10.69 billion was left as of the end of 2012.
“During the period 2004-2008, the COA found out that the road fund was used for the payment of salaries, allowances, maintenance, and other operating expenses of the Road Board,” he said.
These expenses amounting to P515.50 million should have been charged to the regular budget of the agency, the senator said.
Pimentel also pointed to COA’s “discoveries on discrepancies in the collection of the road user’s tax from 2001 to 2010 as stated in the respective certifications of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Bureau of Treasury.
“There was a huge difference of P1.495 billion, using the COA report,” he said.
He said the COA again reported that in 2011, P62.52 million was used for engineering and administrative overhead expenses instead of road maintenance.
In its 2013 audit, Pimentel said, the COA also uncovered irregularities in the Road Board’s expenditures, amounting to more than P1.66 billion.
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