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Drilon: ‘Road Board is dead’

Drilon wants P16.8B cut on DOH budget restored

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon (File photo by EDWIN BACASMAS / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — “Road Board is dead,” even without a law abolishing it, Senate Minority Franklin Drilon said on Saturday.

“No law is needed to abolish the Road Board. It is already dead,” Drilon said in a statement.

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The Board, he said, is rendered “inutile” even if the courts decide that it could not be abolished without the signature of House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The Senate and the House of Representatives have reached a stalemate on a bill seeking to abolish the Board, after the latter approved it and later rescinded it.

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Despite the House’s withdrawal of the bill, the Senate proceeded to adopt the measure.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he already signed the bill and would transmit the measure to President Rodrigo Duterte with or without Arroyo’s signature.

Drilon explained that the Board, upon the President’s order, may decide not to approve any project or authorize the release of funds, including the Board’s maintenance and other operating expense (MOOE) budget.

This can be done, he said, because during the time of then President Arroyo, Congress delegated the power to appropriate the road user’s tax to the Road Board, majority of whom are Cabinet members.

“If the Road Board will not exercise that delegated authority, Congress cannot do anything,” Drilon said.

“That is how the system works: Congress authorizes, the President dispenses. It is an integral part of the check and balance in our system of government,” he added.

Drilon said the Senate can also move to give the Road Board a zero budget next year.

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On Drilon’s motion, the Senate earlier adopted a resolution urging the Office of the President to order the Road Board not to release funds from the motor vehicle user’s charge (MVUC) known as the road user’s tax.

“The Congress has already decided to abolish the P133-billion Road Board; the President has made his position very clear that he is for its abolition. We must respect the legislative process and the decision of the President,” minority leader stressed.

Under the law, the funds collected by the Board should be earmarked solely and used exclusively for road maintenance and improvement of road drainage, installation of adequate and efficient traffic lights and road safety devices, as well as for air pollution control.

But the senator noted that over the past years, the Commission on Audit has consistently flagged non-compliance in the utilization of the funds from the MVUC. /je

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