THE Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill that would abolish the Road Board and transfer the management of the road user’s tax to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr).
Senate Bill No. 1620 was authored and sponsored by Senator Manny Pacquiao, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Works, and was passed with 18 affirmative votes, zero negative vote and no abstention.
“It is high time to abolish the Road Board to further right-size the government and appropriate the agency’s funds directly to the implementing agencies, the DPWH and the DOTr, to best deliver the services to which the road user’s tax is rightfully allocated, as prescribed by law,” Pacquiao said.
Apart from Pacquiao, SBN 1620 was co-authored by Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, along with Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri, Joseph Victor Ejercito, and Sherwin Gatchalian, who is also the bill’s co-sponsor.
Pacquiao said that bill, once approved, would effectively abolish the Road Board created under Republic Act (RA) 8794, and would affect “the manner in which the collection of monies from all motor vehicle owners and its distribution would be carried out.”
Created under the existing RA 8974, the Road Board was mandated to “implement the prudent and efficient management and utilization of special funds,” including the Motor Vehicle User’s Charge (MVUC) collected under the said law.
Pacquiao said that under the new bill, the management of the said funds would now be transferred to the DPWH and the DOTr, and that all funds collected under the existing law “should be deposited to special trust accounts in the national treasury.”
“One major difference between the old law and this proposed legislation is the distribution of collected funds into these special trust accounts. We deem it proper to highlight the need to support local and city roads,” he said.
Under the proposed bill, MVUC collections would be distributed under the following funds: Special Road Support Fund (80%), the Special Local Road Fund (5%), the Special Road Safety Fund (7.5%) and the Special Vehicle Pollution Control Fund (7.5%).
“The Special Road Support Fund, the Special Local Road Fund and the Special Road Safety Fund will be under the DPWH while the Special Vehicle Pollution Control Fund will be under the DOTr,” said Pacquiao.
According to Pacquiao, the bill would also require the DPWH and DOTr to submit annually a report on the utilization of the MVUC, “provided that there shall be pre-audit and post-audit rules for the prevention, improper application, and disallowance of illegal, irregular, extravagant, excessive, unconscionable and unnecessary use of the MVUC.”
Pacquiao said that while the bill would mandate that the existing workers of the Road Board Secretariat be absorbed by the DPWH, the DPWH and the DOTr are proscribed from creating a new such secretariat, “and may only be assisted by a minimal number of staff in their administration and implementation of this act.”
Pacquiao said that the reforms under the act are meant to address issues surrounding the Road Board, which “had become a source of corruption.”
“Past COA reports exposed the illegal utilization of Road User’s tax or the collection from the motor vehicle user’s charge. The MVUC collection from 2001 and 2014 was estimated at P112.5 billion. However, this figure that should have been fully enjoyed by the taxpayers ended up being allocated elsewhere. This is a big anomaly,” he said.
“The need to revisit the function of the Road Board is highly necessary, not just because it has become obsolete overtime but it has been a source of graft and corruption in the government,” Pacquiao said. p: wjg