House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr.
PASAY CITY, Philippines – House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said the House of Representatives will heed to President Rodrigo Duterte’s call to abolish the Road Board due to allegations of corruptions surrounding the agency.
“The President has spoken. We heard his message to the House. We will act based on his guidance. As an institution, we will heed the President’s call,” Andaya said in a statement.
Andaya earlier claimed that he had talked to the President who allegedly agreed to maintain the board and release the road users’ tax.
Also, Andaya alleged that Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo and Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno were ‘out of touch’ for saying that the President wanted the Road Board abolished.
But on Friday (December 21), President Duterte clarified his position on the issue and said he supports the Senate on abolishing the graft-ridden agency.
“And I had a talk with president Arroyo and apparently there was a misunderstanding because all along I really wanted to abolish the road tax. And Andaya says now that I — was one of those who said that it should be maintained. No, nagkamali sila doon. My feelings about that board is — was at the strongest against its being there. Kasi walang ginawa ‘yan kung hindi ma-corrupt,” the President said during the Change of Command Ceremony at the Philippine Air Force base in Pasay City.
The Road Board is the agency tasked to manage the road users’ tax known as the ‘motor vehicle user’s charge’ (MVUC) which funds road repairs and maintenance works. It has made headlines for allegedly serving as “cash cow” to corrupt government officials that’s why the President wants it abolished.
The Senate has adopted and approved the HOR’s version of the proposal to abolish the Road Board.
Both Houses of Congress passed the bill during the Speakership of Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez.
The Lower House, however, rescinded its approval on the bill when Speaker Gloria Arroyo took over.
With the decision coming from the President, Andaya said the Lower House can now “concentrate on the scrutiny of the 2018 budget, parked pork and P75-billion DBM insertions.”
Andaya said, however, that the House will support the abolition if the tax from the MVUC will become part of the annual budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) as line-item fund in the General Appropriations Act.
He also insists that “non-road user activities” such as garbage collection be removed from the spending menu.
Andaya assured that: “If the President will send a better bill and certify it as urgent, the House, convinced of its merits, will approve it without delay.” – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rosalie Coz)