The Senate has approved on third and final reading a bill that would abolish the Road Board and transfer the management of the road user’s tax to the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Department of Transportation to streamline the bureaucracy and improve delivery of services to commuters.
Senate Bill No. 1620 was authored and sponsored by Senator Manny Pacquiao, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Works, and was passed with 18 affirmative votes, no negative votes and no abstentions.
“It is high time to abolish the Road Board to further right-size the government and appropriate the agency’s funds directly to the implementing agencies, the DPWH and the DOTr, to best deliver the services to which the road user’s tax is rightfully allocated, as prescribed by law,” Pacquiao said.
Apart from Pacquiao, SBN 1620 was co-authored by Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri, Joseph Victor Ejercito, and Sherwin Gatchalian, the bill’s co-sponsor.
Pacquiao said the bill, once approved, would effectively abolish the Road Board created under Republic Act 8794, and would affect “the manner in which the collection of monies from all motor vehicle owners and its distribution would be carried out.”
The Road Board was mandated to “implement the prudent and efficient management and utilization of special funds,” including the Motor Vehicle User’s Charge collected under RA 8794.
Under the new bill, Pacquiao said the management of the funds would be transferred to the DPWH and the DOTr, and that all funds collected under the existing law “should be deposited to special trust accounts in the national treasury.”
“One major difference between the old law and this proposed legislation is the distribution of collected funds into these special trust accounts. We deem it proper to highlight the need to support local and city roads,” he said.
Under the proposed bill, MVUC collections would be distributed under the following: Special Road Support Fund (80 percent), the Special Local Road Fund (5 percent), the Special Road Safety Fund (7.5 percent) and the Special Vehicle Pollution Control Fund (7.5 percent).
“The Special Road Support Fund, the Special Local Road Fund and the Special Road Safety Fund will be under the DPWH, while the Special Vehicle Pollution Control Fund will be under the DOTr,” he added.
According to Pacquiao, the bill would also require the DPWH and DOTr to submit annually a report on the utilization of the MVUC, “provided that there shall be pre-audit and post-audit rules for the prevention, improper application, and disallowance of illegal, irregular, extravagant, excessive, unconscionable and unnecessary use” of the tax fund.
While the bill would mandate that the existing workers of the Road Board Secretariat be absorbed by the DPWH, the DPWH and the DOTr are proscribed or forbidden from creating a similar secretariat, “and may only be assisted by a minimal number of staff in their administration and implementation of this act,” he said.
Pacquiao said the reforms under the act are meant to address issues surrounding the Road Board, which “had become a source of corruption.”
“Past CoA reports exposed the illegal utilization of Road User’s tax or the collection from the motor vehicle user’s charge. The MVUC collection from 2001 and 2014 was estimated at P112.5 billion. However, this figure that should have been fully enjoyed by the taxpayers ended up being allocated elsewhere. This is a big anomaly,” he said.
“The need to revisit the function of the Road Board is highly necessary, not just because it has become obsolete overtime but it has been a source of graft and corruption in the government,” Pacquiao said.