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House passes bill abolishing Road Board

The House of Representatives has unanimously passed the bill seeking to abolish the controversial Road Board, bringing the measure closer to approval by President Rodrigo Duterte.

During the resumption of sessions on Tuesday, the House voted 172-0 to approve House Bill No. 7436, which aims to shut down the Road Board, on third and final reading.

The Road Board’s personnel, as well as its rights, assets, and liabilities, would be transferred to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), according to the bill.

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The House leadership under Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez had sought the agency’s abolition over long-standing corruption allegations. It may be recalled that Alvarez cited the Commission on Audit’s findings that the board’s P90.72-billion fund have been illegally used from 2001 to 2012.

Instead of the Road Board managing proceeds from the Motor Vehicle User’s Charge (MVUC) for road projects and air pollution control, the bill sought to remit the collections directly to the National Treasury to be appropriated for relevant projects by the DPWH, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and Department of Transportation (DOTr).

Before Mr. Duterte gets to sign the House bill into law, it would have to be reconciled first with Senate Bill No. 1620, which the Senate unanimously approved on third and final reading last February 12.

This was because the House and the Senate bills provided for different ways of distributing the MVUC collections.

Under the House bill, road tax proceeds would be split this way: 40 percent each for the Special National Road Support Fund and the Special Local Road Support Fund under the DPWH, 10 percent for the Special Pollution Control Fund under the DENR, and 10 percent for the Special Vehicle Pollution Control Fund under the DOTr.

On the other hand, the Senate bill sought to allocate 40 percent of the MVUC collections for national and secondary road maintenance and drainage projects, five percent each for road safety devices and air pollution control, and 50 percent for local road maintenance and traffic management.                       /kga

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