MANILA - House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. on Wednesday claimed President Rodrigo Duterte has agreed to keep the Road Board, contrary to the statement of two Cabinet members.
The executive branch is awaiting the transmittal of the "enrolled copy" of the bill and the President will immediately sign this, according to Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno.
Andaya said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo may have been "misinformed" about the details of the bill.
"It is for the creation of a special fund directly under the disposal of the secretary of Public Works, secretary of DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) and secretary of Department of Transportation that is completely the opposite of what they are saying," Andaya told reporters in a press briefing.
”Maybe you should ask them (Panelo and Diokno) if they actually talk to the President."
Andaya said he had dinner with Duterte, House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and then Special Assistant to the President Bong Go before the House withdrew the approval of the House Bill 7436 abolishing the Road Board last September.
Andaya said the dinner was at the Palace 1 to 2 days before the House rescinded approval last September 12. It was during this dinner when Duterte told them he wants fund releases to be continued.
Andaya also refuted Diokno’s claims that the executive branch wanted the Road Board abolished to give Congress leeway to allocate the funds in the budget, citing that House Bill 7436 merely puts the Road Users Tax funds under the control of three Cabinet members.
“Hindi naman ho inaabolish dito ang Road Board dito eh ginagawa lang nila from 7-man Road Board ginagawa lang nilang 3 road kings. Mas pinapadali sabihin ang pagrelease, corruption rin ang pwede mangyari at hindi rin po totoo yung sinasabi ni Secretary Diokno,” he said.
(It does not abolish the Road Board, it only transofrms a 7-man Road Board to 3 road kings. It makes release of funds faster, corruption is also possible, and what Secretary Diokno is saying is not true.)
Diokno had said his ongoing feud with members of the House of Representatives over alleged insertions in next year's budget was all because of his decision not to release the road users' tax.
Andaya, meanwhile, maintained neither he nor Arroyo had any projects funded from the Road Users Tax.
Diokno has stated he won't go to any House probes on the matter. Andaya said they will have to content themselves with summoning underlings as he ruled out the use of the House’s coercive powers.
Andaya also echoed House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez's claim that wrangling over the Road Board was Diokno’s diversionary tactic from allegations he diverted flood control funds in the national budget to areas in Sorsogon, where in-laws of his daughter are running for public office next year.