By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The House of Representatives will summon the members of the Road Board following complaints from congressmen that some of them impose illegal conditions on those who seek to avail of the road user’s tax.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said the Road Board members must explain reports that they were allegedly taking advantage of their positions to receive huge kickbacks from projects funded by the road user’s tax.
“Nag-file po ako ng bill para i-abolish ang Road Board dahil nga maraming reklamo yung mga congressman natin na talagang hinihingan sila ng 20 percent doon sa project cost (I have filed a bill to abolish the Road Board because of many complaints from congressmen that they have been asked 20 percent of the project cost) ,” Alvarez told reporters.
House Bill No. 6236
Alvarez earlier filed House Bill No. 6236 seeking to abolish the Road Board and transfer its functions to the Department of Public Works and Highways and to the Department of Transportation.
The Davao del Norte lawmaker said the Road Board officials allegedly designate their preferred contractor should the project proponents fail to meet their 20-percent project cost requirement.
“Ngayon, ang sabi ko ay hindi pupwede (ito). Alam mo kahit maganda ang layunin ng batas kung ganyan naman yung nag-iimplement nung batas na yan ay kailangang reviewhin natin kung ito ba ay manatili o kailangang i-abolish (This should be stopped. The law has good intention, but the implementor is not doing it properly, we really need to review this, if the board will stay or will be abolished) ,” Alvarez said.
He reminded those who committed illegal acts and misused the road fund will be charged with graft.
“Kung mapapatunayan natin na merong lumabag sa batas, merong mga tao who committed yung laban nga doon sa anti-graft law natin ay kinakailangan talagang makasuhan yun (If proven that they violated the law, and there are persons who violated the anti-graft law, they must be charged),” he said.
Alvarez said the board is tasked to ensure prudent and efficient management of the Road User’s Tax estimated to have amounted to P90.72 billion from 2001 to 2012.
He noted that Commission on Audit (COA) questioned the use of the road fund from 2001 to 2013.
For road maintenance
The road user’s tax, or road fund, is earmarked solely and exclusively for road maintenance and improvement of road drainage, installation of efficient traffic lights and road safety devices, and air pollution control.
In a statement, the Road Board said that it has been reorganized and is now under the control and supervision of the Office of the President.
In filing HB 6236, Alvarez described the Road Board as “just another layer of bureaucracy, which became another avenue for graft and corruption.”
According to COA, P515.50 million of the road fund was used in 2004 to 2008 for payment of salaries, allowances, maintenance and other operating expenses, which were properly chargeable to the regular budget, Alvarez noted.
He also cited that in 2011, P62.52 million of the road fund was used for the Road Board’s engineering and administrative overhead expenses, quoting state auditors.
In 2013, COA uncovered findings of irregularities in the use of more than P1.66 billion of the funds, he said.
“COA has pointed out that from 2001 to 2010 there were discrepancies amounting to P1.495 billion in the total collection of Road User’s Tax between the collections declared by the Land Transportation Office and the certification from the Bureau of Treasury,” Alvarez said.
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