Two senators on Wednesday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to interfere after the House of Representatives voided its earlier approval of a bill to abolish the graft-ridden Road Board.
Minority Leader Franklin Drilon stressed there was a legal issue in the House move since it was being discussed by the bicameral conference committee.
Senators approved Senate Bill 1620 which seeks to abolish the Road Board, on Feb. 12, 2018.
On May 15, the House, then under the leadership of bill author Pantaleon Alvarez, approved the counterpart measure House Bill 7436.
Both chambers have nominated their respective members to compose the bicameral conference committee but it was not convened.
“The Senate accepted the House version that will abolish the Road Board. When they heard that the Senate adopted their version, they rescinded their approval,” he said.
But on Sept. 12, the House, upon the motion of Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr., voided the House approval of the measure.
There was no objection and the motion was implemented.
Drilon also questioned the Road Board’s release of funds worth P13 billion while Congress was still deliberating on the bill that sought to abolish it.
“They know they would be abolished and yet they still released such a huge amount,” he said.
Drilon and Senate President Vicente Sotto III said it was up to the President to solve the issue, especially as he himself had expressed support for the abolition of the agency.
Sotto said he had informed the President about it.
“We’ll wait for executive action because we know the President wants it abolished,” he said.
According to Drilon, he said the issue involved a “political process and a political decision.”
He said the key here was for the President to tell the House of Representatives to accept the Senate’s position that “we already adopted the House version because the President himself believes the Road Board is graft-ridden.
“So he should tell the supermajority to accept and approve the bill, and send it to Malacañang as an enrolled bill.”
The Road Board was established under Republic Act 8794 in 2000 under then-president and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
The board is meant to manage and use the funds from motor vehicle user’s charge or road users’ tax, as the agency does not get allocation from the national budget.
If enacted, the bill would have amended Section 7 of RA 8794 earmarking the funds collected for construction, upgrading, repair, and rehabilitation of roads, bridges and road drainage.