HOUSE Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr. has welcomed the proposal of Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri for the bicameral conference committee to reconvene and work on genuine abolition of the controversial Road Board.
Andaya, who chairs the House Committee on Rules, said the suggestion was laudable after President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s call to abolish the Road Board, explaining the version that was approved by Congress and rescinded by the House of Representatives last September 12 was a fake bill on Road Board abolition.
“We are positively responding to Senator Zubiri’s call that the Senate and the House meet in conference to hammer out a better -- and genuine -- Road Board abolition bill. On the part of the House, we will designate the members of our contingent to the bicameral conference committee on our first session day next year, on January 14,” said Andaya.
“Senator Zubiri’s proposal is the way forward, for both Houses to jointly cure the bill of its defects, instead of carelessly sending to the President a flawed and faulty one, which does not offer reforms but more of the same bad practices,” said Andaya.
He reiterated that the approved version merely transfers the management and control of Road Board funds from a seven-man to a three-department entity composed of the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Transportation (DOTr), and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
“The House advocates the 100 percent dismantling of the Road Board. We do not want its powers to be merely transferred to three secretaries who will in effect be Three Road Kings who can spend the MVUC (Motor Vehicle User’s Charge) at will. We will ensure that all proceeds from the MVUC form part of the General Fund. We want to strip MVUC collections of its status as a hidden off-budget item that will be spent by one person in an untransparent way,” Andaya stressed.
Andaya vowed to heed President Duterte’s position to abolish the Road Board.
“We will heed the President’s guidance by crafting a version that will truly abolish the board and move the spending of the MVUC collection from darkness into light,” Andaya stressed.
“We want itemized spending the people can see. We will ensure that the law will provide that every centavo taken from the motorists will be spent for their relief and benefit. Non-road use activities like garbage collection would have to be stricken off the spending menu,” said Andaya.
“I recall that Migz and I were freshmen opposition congressmen in 1998 who opposed the passage of the law creating the Road Users’ Tax, which was aggressively pushed then by some people who are now in the President’s Cabinet,” Andaya added.
The Road Board controls funds collected from the MVUC solely for road maintenance and drainage improvement, the installation of traffic lights and road safety devices, and monitoring air pollution.
Andaya said his panel will now focus on the investigation on alleged P75-billion insertions of embattled Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno in the proposed 2019 P3.757-trillion national budget.
“Finally, we can concentrate on the scrutiny of the 2018 budget, parked pork and P75-billion DBM insertions,” said Andaya.
Andaya expressed belief that the Road Board issue is being used to divert attention from the alleged budget anomalies of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) that the House leadership uncovered.
He reiterated his call for Diokno not to skip the congressional probe into his alleged P75-billion insertions. Diokno denied any irregularity in the budget process.
The House Committee on Rules will investigate the controversy on January 3, 2019 in Naga City.