Time to abolish graft-ridden Road Board: Duterte

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said he agreed with senators’ opinion that the time has come to abolish the Road Board which he called “a depository of money and corruption”.

“I agree with the others and senators that it is time to abolish it and return that function to the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highway). I side with the Senate,” Duterte said in his speech during Philippine Air Force (PAF) Change of Command ceremony in Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.

Duterte said the Senate has decided the right thing when it adopted on September 12 the House version of the bill seeking abolition of the Road Board which manages the Motor Vehicle User’s Charge (MVUC).

However, the House of Representatives, now under the leadership of House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, has later withdrawn its approval of the bill that was passed during the time of former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

The MVUC funds are supposed to be spent exclusively for road maintenance and improvement of road drainage, traffic lights and road safety devices installations and air pollution control.

“Ever since I assumed office, I’ve always been wary about this office because it has been the milking cow of people who are corrupt in government,” Duterte said.

“Ever since, I’ve really questioned the existence of this office. It’s nothing but a depository of money and for corruption. Walang ibangpurpose ‘yan (It has no other purpose),” he added.

Duterte denied claim by House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. that the President wanted to maintain the Road Board.

“I had a talk with president Arroyo and apparently there was a misunderstanding because all along I really wanted to abolish the road tax. And Andaya says now that I — was one of those who said that it should be maintained. No, nagkamali sila doon (They are wrong),” Duterte said.

“My feelings about that board is — was at the strongest against its being there. Kasi walang ginawa ‘yan kung hindi ma-corrupt. (It has no other purpose but source of corruption) And I see now that it’s about time na buwagin nila ‘yan (they abolish it) because if not and if I side, which I am on the side of the Senate, it would create another constitutional issue and maybe crisis,” he added.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office has received the bill abolishing the Road Board.

“The problem is according to the House, it was not signed by Speaker Arroyo but ES (Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea) was saying that that’s ministerial,” Panelo said in a Palace press briefing on Friday.

Siguro (Perhaps), if the President really wants to end this, he will sign it and then they (House) will go to the court. Those in the House, they may question it,” he added.

The MVUC has a balance of PHP45 billion, according to media reports. PNA-northboundasia.com