MANILA – The President should be given the opportunity to sign or reject the bill passed by both the Senate and House of Representatives seeking to abolish the controversial Road Board due to allegations of corruption and misuse of public funds, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said on Monday.
"The bill should be sent immediately to the President's desk for his action. We should let the President decide. It is a political decision," Drilon said.
Drilon said there is no valid reason for its transmittal to the Office of the President to be delayed any further.
"Since the Senate already adopted the House version, the House lost jurisdiction over the bill and could no longer validly reconsider its approval of the measure which will abolish the Road Board," he said.
Drilon said the Senate's decision to adopt the House version of the bill "rendered a bicameral conference unnecessary."
The Senate on Sept. 12, 2018 adopted the House version to dispense with the bicameral conference. Later that day, the House rescinded its approval on third reading of its own version.
At that point, however, the only remaining steps to complete the legislative process were the printing and signing of the enrolled copy of the bill as a matter of course and its presentment to the President for approval, Drilon said.
Drilon said the abolition of Road Board is critical in the government's fight against corruption, saying the body has become a breeding ground for corruption and inefficiency.
Drilon noted that the Commission on Audit (COA) over the past years has consistently flagged non-compliance in the utilization of the funds from the motor vehicle user's charge (MVUC).
Last week, the Senate, upon Drilon's motion, unanimously adopted a resolution urging the Office of the President to order the Road Board not to release funds from the MVUC, following the passage by both houses of Congress of the bill which would abolish the Road Board.
Under the law, the funds should be earmarked solely and used exclusively for road maintenance and improvement of road drainage, installation of adequate and efficient traffic lights and road safety devices, as well as for air pollution control.
From 2001 to May 2018, the total collection for MVUC reached PHP166.18 billion with total releases amounting to PHP136.87 billion.
In 2017, the President called on Congress to abolish the Road Board and transfer its functions to the appropriate department. Both houses have responded by immediately passing their own versions of the bill. (PR)
Photo by Joseph Vidal/Senate PRIB/Rappler