Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon insisted on Wednesday that there is no need to convene a bicameral conference committee on the abolition of the Road Board.
"With all due respect to Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, the Senate has already taken the position that the bill to abolish the Road Board is already approved by virtue of its adoption of House Bill 7436 on September 12," Drilon said.
The minority leader stressed that this position is reflected in the Resolution No. 134, which he proposed and the Senate adopted shortly before it went on Christmas break last December 13, urging the Office of the President not to release funds from the motor vehicle user's charge (MVUC) following the Congress' passage of the bill which would abolish the Road Board.
"Convening a bicam has no basis when there is no inconsistent or disagreeing provisions," Drilon explained. "When we adopted the House bill on September 12, there are no more disagreeing provisions."
"The Senate's action made the bicam unecessary, which means the bill to abolish the corruption-plagued agency is already considered passed by both chambers, and should have long been sent to the President's desk for his signature," he added.
The House leadership, however, refused to enroll the bill, saying it rescinded its own version of the measure on the same day the Senate adopted their version.
"The Senate, in several instances, has made clear its position that the Road Board abolition measure is already approved. The Senate President issued statements to assert the position of the Senate. We better stick to it and continue to urge the House leadership to abide and respect the legislative process and the decision of the President," Drilon said.
Last week, the Senate's stand to abolish the Road Board got support from the President Rodrigo Duterte, who called for the immediate abolition of the agency, which he said was used as the "milking cow" of corrupt officials.
Earlier, Drilon said the Road Board is dead, saying that the Senate, consistent with its position that the Road Board should be abolished, can move that Road Board be given a zero budget next year.
Drilon said the President can also order the members of the Board not to approve any project or authorize the release of funds, including the Board's maintenance and other operating expense (MOOE) budget.
This can be done because the Congress, explained Drilon, delegated the power to appropriate the Road User's Tax to the Road Board, majority of whom are Cabinet members, during the speaker's term as President.
"If the Road Board will not exercise that delegated authority, Congress cannot do anything," Drilon said.
Photo from Senate PRIB/Philstar