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House leadership rescinds passage of Road Board abolition

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

The Arroyo speakership has reverted the previous approval of a proposed legislation that seeks to abolish the Road Board.

During Wednesday’s plenary proceedings, House Majority Floor Leader Rolando ‘Noynoy’ Andaya Jr. motioned to withdrew the passage of House Bill 7364 which was approved on final reading last May.

“With leave of the House, I move that we rescind approval of the said bill and that we will no longer pursue its passage,” Andaya said.

Lawmakers present in the plenary quickly rescinded the approval of the Road Board’s abolition without any opposition or objection.

Deputy Speaker Frederick Abueg, the presiding officer, approved the motion.

The said measure seeks to abolish the Road Board and transfer its functions to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and to the Department of Transportation (DOT).

The proposed Road Board abolition is a pet legislation of the previous House leadership under ousted Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez (Davao del Norte).

The Davao del Norte solon previously said he is seeking the abolition of Road Board to prevent the alleged misuse of billions of pesos of the Road User’s Tax collected by the government.

Andaya has yet to explain why the measure’s passage was withdrawn.

The Road Board, was created under Republic Act (RA) No. 8794, is mandated to oversee the funds from the Motor Vehicle User’s Charge (MVUC) which is supposed to be exclusively used for road maintenance, road drainage improvement, installation of traffic lights and road safety devices, and air pollution control.

The former House leader previously stated that the Commission on Audit (COA) has unraveled signs of irregularities in use of the Road Fund, estimated to have amounted to a total of Php 90.72 billion from 2001 to December 2012.

The same findings showed that some Php 515.50 million of the funds collected from the Road User’s Tax was used in 2004 to 2008 for payment of salaries, allowances, maintenance and other operating expenses, which were properly chargeable to the regular budget.

State auditors in 2011 discovered that Php 62.52 million was used for the Road Board’s engineering and administrative overhead expenses while the use of Php 1.66 billion of the same fund was also questioned in 2013 for alleged irregularities.

Alvarez also noted that from 2001 to 2010, COA uncovered discrepancies amounting to Php 1.495 billion in the total collection of Road User’s Tax based on the collections declared by the LTO and the certification from the Bureau of Treasury.