Road board fate

December 19, 2018
Rolando Andaya Jr.

HOUSE Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr.  yesterday said the leadership of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was guided by President Rodrigo Duterte on resolving the Road Board issue, leading to the decision to withdraw the abolition of the board.

Sometime before September 12, 2018, Andaya said he and Arroyo met President Duterte with former presidential assistant to the President Bong Go in Malacañang to get a clear signal about the proposal to abolish the Road Board that former Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez of Davao del Norte has been pushing.

“Speaker (Arroyo) and I personally asked the President as to his stand on the Road Board. All of us agreed to allow it to exist under the stewardship of Mr. Chito Clavano  who  earlier resigned but whose resignation was rejected by PRRD. It is with this policy direction that the HoR (House of Representatives) withdrew the proposal to abolish the Road Board,” said Andaya.

“Nagtanong kami ano pong ibig sabihin noon [na hindi tinanggap ang resignation]? Pinagkakatiwalaan niya ang tao, palagay po niya kayang linisin ang sistema at sinabi [ng ating Pangulo] na ipagpatuloy na po ang pag-release ng projects. Iyun po ang aming pag-intindi na maliwang na sinabi sa amin kaya [nagdesisyon kaming] i-withdraw ang panukalang batas na ito,” Andaya told reporters in a press conference.

On September 12, Andaya recalled that he made a motion rescinding the passage of the bill to which nobody objected, prompting the House leadership to carry the motion. But Andaya clarified that the measure was not intended to abolish the Road Board, but to limit the controlling authorities of funds from seven-man to three-department, namely, the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Transportation (DOTr), and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“Pinapalabas na ayaw ng House na i-abolish ang Road Board, hindi po totoo iyun at kasinungalian. Kung titingnan natin ang bill na pinilit ipasa ng Senado hindi naman po ina-abolish dito ang Road Board, ginagawa lang na from seven-man Road Board, ginagawa nilang three-road kings, mas pinapadali pa nila ang pagre-release, siguro dahil sa corruption rin na puwedeng mangyari,” Andaya stressed.

“At hindi rin po totoo ang sinasabi ni Sec. [Benjamin] Diokno na ibibigay sa Kongreso ang pondo para i-allocate ng mga mambabatas. Kabaligtaran po ang mangyayari sa kanyang sinasabi, dito po ang pondo hindi mapupunta sa general fund, mapupunta po sa isang special trust fund. Sa panukala under the management and disposal of three Cabinet secretaries, namely Public Works, DENR at DoTR [ang pondo]. Sila lamang po ang may hawak at poder na i-release ang pondo, wala pong kinalaman ang Kongreso dito,” said Andaya.

House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo “Danny” Suarez on Tuesday charged that the abolition of the Road Board was meant to divert its fund to support the “parking” of infrastructure projects of “former leaders” that he did not identify in the national budget.

Parking refers to listing funding under the budget of a congressional district for use later on for a different project and in a different congressional district.

Like Suarez, Andaya also dismissed the allegation of Alvarez that Mrs. Arroyo wanted to control the proceeds from the tax officially known as the Motor Vehicle User’s Charge (MVUC) in opposing the abolition of the Road Board.

Andaya also 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 maintained that Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo was wrong in saying that President Duterte can sign the bill abolishing the Road Board if it reaches his desk.

“To rescind it takes an enrolled bill signed by the Speaker.  That is not forthcoming for the plenary has withdrawn support.  Speaker cannot sign the enrolled bill.  No authority,” said Andaya.