Road Board issue meant to divert attention, says minority

THE minority bloc at the House of Representatives said allegations of corruption against officials of the Road Board and the House of Representatives are only meant to divert the public's attention from the real issues hounding the national budget.

In a press conference on Tuesday, December 18, Minority Leader Danilo Suarez denied the accusations of former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez that Road Board officials are in conspiracy with congressmen to extort from favored contractors 30 to 40 percent of the total cost of projects as commission.

"Bakit kami ang lumalabas na... who has something to with this issue on the Road Board parang dina-divert mo yung issue. Ano namang relevance ng Road Board dito sa pinag-uusapan natin?" said Suarez.

Suarez defended the lawmakers at the House of Representatives saying they cannot "lift their finger" in relation to the Road Board so if there are allegations of corruption against the agency, the government should "look into its composition."

Officials of the Road Board include the Budget Secretary, Finance Secretary and Transportation Secretary, among others.

"Walang Congress so kung may korapsyon, paano kami masasali dun?" Suarez said.

Suarez also bared that former leaders of the House of Representatives, whom he refused to mention tried to influence the allocation of funds by the Road Board.

"Nagsumbong sa akin yung Road Board at sinabi nila...I have nothing to do with it, I'm just the minority leader. Sinabi lang nila sa amin that they were being asked by some leaders to dedicate x amount of money, by that time nasa P40 billion for some of their what we called parking projects," said Suarez.

He further added: "Yung gusto nilang maglagay ng project sa ibat-ibang lugar e with the threat na kapag hindi ninyo binigay iaabolish namin kayo."

Alvarez earlier alleged that the allies of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wanted to control the proceeds from the road user's tax also known as the Motor Vehicle User’s Charge (MVUC).

He also said Suarez is a key player in the House of Representatives as he was the one who pushed for the rescission of the passage of the Road Board abolition bill.

In May, the House of Representatives under the leadership of Alvarez approved House Bill No. 7436, which seeks to a the Road Board due to grave allegations of misuse of public funds, misappropriation, and graft and corruption.

The House of Representatives later rescinded the third reading approval of the measure, leaving the bill afloat.

Alvarez further alleged that lawmakers can possibly get more kickbacks now that the Road Board abolition bill is at the mercy of the House of Representatives.

The corruption issues against the Road Board came following allegations by the present House leadership that Alvarez's district ranked first as far as allocations are concerned, with P5 billion.

This surfaced after the House of Representatives investigated the Department of Budget Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno over the billions of pesos worth of insertions in the national budget and the more than P2 billion worth of allocations for the province of Sorsogon, the district represented by Diokno's relatives. (SunStar Philippines)


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