The Road Board is dead and there is nothing the House of Representatives can do to revive it, Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon said on Saturday.
“No law is needed to abolish the Road Board. It is already dead,” Drilon said.
Even if the courts finally decide that the Road Board cannot be abolished if House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo does not sign nor endorse the bill abolishing the Board, the agency is rendered inutile, Drilon said.
The senator said it will only take for the members of the Board, upon the directive of the President, 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 because Congress, explained Drilon, delegated the power to appropriate the Road User’s Tax to the Road Board, majority of whom are Cabinet members, during the speaker’s term as President.
“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 explained.
Furthermore, Drilon said that in the 2019 budget, the Senate, consistent with its position that the Road Board should be abolished, can move that Road Board be given a zero budget.
Last week, the Senate, upon Drilon’s motion, unanimously 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), following the passage by both houses of Congress of the bill which would abolish the Road Board.
Under the law, the funds 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.
However, the Commission on Audit over the past years has consistently flagged non-compliance in the utilization of the funds from the MVUC, Drilon noted.
From 2001 to May 2018, the total collection for MVUC reached P166.18 billion with total releases amounting to P136.87 billion.
“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,” Drilon concluded.