Senate OKs bill to abolish Road Board

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 13) — The Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill that would abolish the Road Board, amid corruption allegations.

Under Senate Bill 1620, authored and sponsored by Sen. Manny Pacquiao, the Road Board's power to manage road user's tax will be transferred to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

"It is high time to abolish the Road Board to further right-size the government and appropriate the agency's funds directly to the implementing agencies, the DPWH and the DOTr, to best deliver the services to which the road user's tax is rightfully allocated, as prescribed by law," Pacquiao said.

The bill was passed with 18 yes votes, without negative votes and abstentions.

The Board, created under Republic Act 8794, is mandated to "implement the prudent and efficient management and utilization of special funds," including the Motor Vehicle User's Charge (MVUC) collected under the said law.

Some of the Board's recent projects include a ₱250-million road mapping project which began in 2015, with the goal to digitize the country's road inventory.

Pacquiao said that under the new bill, all funds collected under the existing law "should be deposited to special trust accounts in the national treasury." 

"One major difference between the old law and this proposed legislation is the distribution of collected funds into these special trust accounts. We deem it proper to highlight the need to support local and city roads," he said.

Under the proposed bill, MVUC collections would be distributed under the following funds:

  • Special Road Support Fund (80 percent)
  • Special Local Road Fund (5 percent)
  • Special Road Safety Fund (7.5 percent)
  • Special Vehicle Pollution Control Fund (7.5 percent)

He added that while the bill would mandate that the existing workers of the Road Board Secretariat be absorbed by the DPWH, the DPWH and the DOTr are proscribed from creating a new such secretariat, "and may only be assisted by a minimal number of staff in their administration and implementation of this act."

Pacquiao said that the reforms under the act are meant to address issues surrounding the Road Board.

"Past COA reports exposed the illegal utilization of Road User's tax or the collection from the motor vehicle user's charge. The MVUC collection from 2001 and 2014 was estimated at P112.5 billion. However, this figure that should have been fully enjoyed by the taxpayers ended up being allocated elsewhere. This is a big anomaly," he said.

The House Committee on Public Works also recently passed a similar measure.