MANILA

Duterte sets record straight, says he wants Road Board dismantled

THERE IS a need to abolish the corruption-ridden Road Board, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday, December 21.

The President made the remark to confirm the statement of Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno and belie the assertion of House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. that the Chief Executive wanted to keep the office.

Earlier Friday, Andaya continued his tirades against Diokno and released a letter written by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III to House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to further dispute Diokno’s claim.

But Duterte, in a speech delivered in Pasay City on Friday, made it clear that he was supporting the Senate's proposal to scrap the Road Board, which he said is plagued with corruption.

"I believe that the Senate has decided the right thing and has stated that the Road Board has been dismantled. Ever since I assumed office, I have always been wary about this office because it has been the milking cow of people who are corrupt in government," Duterte said.

"Ever since, I have really questioned the existence of this office. It is nothing but a depository of money and for corruption. Walang ibang purpose 'to (It no longer has any purpose)," he added.

Duterte's clarification came after Andaya claimed Wednesday, December 19, that the President does not want the allegedly graft-laden Road Board scrapped.

Duterte refuted Andaya's claim, saying that the House of Representatives "misunderstood" him.

He stressed that it was "good" to go ahead with the plan to abolish the Road Board.

"I had a talk with President (House Speaker) Arroyo. Apparently, there was a misunderstanding because all along, I really wanted to abolish the Road Tax. And Andaya says now that I was one of those who said that it should be maintained. No, nagkamali sila doon (they're wrong with that)," he said.

"And I see now that it's about time na buwagin nila iyan because if not, and if I side, which I am on the side of the Senate, it would create another constitutional issue, and maybe crisis. Huwag lang sana (I hope it will not happen)," he added.

Road users’ tax

Earlier Friday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo already reiterated that Duterte supported the abolition of the Road Board, which oversees taxes collected from road users.

The road users' tax is the term used for motor vehicle users' charge (MVUC) collected by the Road Board from annual vehicle registration fees.

The Senate and the House of Representatives have pushed for the board's abolition because of the supposed irregularities involving the MVUC.

However, the House lawmakers later withdrew its support for the bill.

Andaya has also continued his tirades and alleged that the “real” stand of the Department of Finance (DOF) is to increase the MVUC, not abolish the Road Board.

He released to the media a letter signed by Dominguez and dated September 21, 2018, which listed the legislative measures that the economic managers wanted the Congress to pass.

These were:

1. Tax Amnesty;

2. Increasing the excise tax on alcohol and tobacco products;

3. Restructuring and increasing the motor vehicle user charge;

4. Rationalizing capital income and financial taxes; and,

5. Reforming property valuation and taxes.

DOF ‘stand’

Andaya said item number 3 showed that the stand of DOF is “very clear” — that they wanted to restructure and increase the MVUC.

“Sa sulat na iyon, malinaw ang gusto ng DOF : taasan ang registration fees ng mga motorsiklo, kotse, truck , jeep, SUV at lahat ng motor vehicles. 'Ni walang pahapyaw na buwagin ang Road Board,” Andaya stressed.

Andaya reiterated that the House supports the genuine reform of the Road Board.

“Ganun pa man, suportado namin ang tunay na reporma sa Road Board operations, hindi sa moro-moro na pagbuwag nito, sa tamang pag-gasta ng MVUC,” he said.

He continued: “Kaisa namin ang DOF sa mithiing maayos ang maging pamamahala ng nakokolektang MVUC.”

Andaya, meanwhile, did not let up on Diokno and insinuated that the latter is lying.

“Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, on the other hand, is all over town telling our people that the President wanted the abolition of the Road Board,” Andaya said.

“We, in Congress, believed that Sec. Dominguez is speaking for the economic managers when he spelled out the government’s economic agenda. Now, who is telling the truth, Sec. Dominguez or Sec. Diokno?” he said.

Andaya challenged Diokno to a debate on House Bill 7436, or what the executive and the Senate call the Road Board Abolition bill.

“So that our people will really know who is telling the truth with regard to HB 7436, I reiterate my challenge to Sec. Diokno to a public debate on the issue. Name the place and date, I will be there.”

Andaya earlier explained that HB 7436 is not a Road Board Abolition bill as it sought to restructure the composition of the seven-man Road Board and confer to the “three board kings” - Department of Public Works and Highway (DPWH), Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) - the absolute power to disburse the road users’ tax. (SunStar Philippines)


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