MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said he would push for the abolition of the graft-ridden Road Board, a matter that has drawn conflicting views from some members of the House of Representatives.
In a speech during the change-of-command ceremony at the Philippine Air Force in Pasay City, Duterte said he would side with the Senate, which has declared that the board should be abolished as it has been corrupted.
The Road Board oversees funds from the Motor Vehicle User's Charge, which are supposed to be used exclusively for road maintenance and improvement of road drainage, installation of traffic lights and road safety devices, and air pollution control.
But the Commission on Audit has said the MVUCs were being misappropriated, making it vulnerable to corruption.
“I agree with the others and the senators that it is time to abolish it and return its function with the DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways),” Duterte said.
“I believe that the Senate has decided the right thing and has stated that the Road Board must be dismantled.”
Duterte also belied House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr.’s claim that he had agreed that the Road Board should stay during a dinner sometime in September.
Andaya had 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 House Bill 7436 abolishing the Road Board last September.
The Senate adopted the House version of the bill on Sept. 12. Later that day, however, the House, led by the Speaker, passed a motion voiding its version of the bill, which was passed during the time of former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
“I had a talk with [former] President Arroyo and apparently there was misunderstanding because all along I really wanted to abolish the Road [Board],” Duterte said.
“Andaya says now that it should be maintained. No. Nagkamali sila doon (they made a mistake there). My feelings about that board was at the strongest against being there.”
Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier said the Senate would transmit the enrolled copy of the bill even without Arroyo’s signature.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, however, told reporters that the Palace has so far received only a Senate resolution calling for the abolition of the Road Board, and not the enrolled bill.
Nonetheless, Panelo said in a Friday press briefing that the President might still sign the bill even without Arroyo’s signature.
Panelo explained, citing the opinion of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, that Arroyo’s signing of the bill would only be “ministerial” in nature.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon earlier argued that the House has lost jurisdiction over the bill after the Senate adopted the version of the lower chamber’s proposed measure.