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Road Board controversy

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The current political controversy concerning the Road Board and its corresponding Motor Vehicle User’s Charge (MVUC) fund has certainly polarized the Executive and the Legislative departments of the national government. Considering the numerous allegations and arguments surrounding the controversy, some sober evaluation of the situation appears to be in order.

“Since the Road Board was created by law, only Congress may abolish it by the enactment of another law.

For starters, the Road Board was created by Republic Act 8794. Its avowed objective is geared towards road maintenance, road safety projects and vehicle pollution measures.

To fund the Road Board, the law also requires the imposition of a special fee on all private motor vehicles registered with the Land Transportation Office. This fee is the source of the MVUC funds.

The MVUC funds are reserved for expenditures related to the objectives of the Road Board.

As of this writing, the fund is supposed to be in the amount of P45 billion.

There are accusations that the MVUC funds have been misused by many politicians for the past several years. As a result, there are many calls for the abolition of the Road Board.

In a paid newspaper advertisement, the Road Board claims it has no control over the MVUC funds; that all expenditures to be charged against the MVUC funds must pass through the Departments of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and of Transportation (DoTr) and that all such expenditures are ultimately approved by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

It appears that the solution lies in the abolition of the Road Board and the tax creating the MVUC funds.

“It appears that the solution lies in the abolition of the Road Board and the tax creating the MVUC funds.

From the Road Board’s own admission in its paid newspaper advertisement, its role is limited to endorsing expenditures identified by the DPWH and the DoTr, for the ultimate approval of the DBM. To all intents and purposes, therefore, the Road Board is a mere endorsing agency.

Under the existing law on expenditures of public funds, the DBM is tasked with the evaluation of road projects endorsed to it by the DPWH. This means that the role of the Road Board is a mere duplication of an existing function of an existing department.

It also means that the Road Board is a useless government agency and public funds are wasted on the salaries of its officials and employees and on its useless operations. Those public funds are better spent on public hospitals and government projects for the poor.

In fine, the Road Board must be abolished because it is a white elephant and a drain on the public treasury.

Since the Road Board was created by law, only Congress may abolish it by the enactment of another law. Congress ought to do that immediately since the national budget for 2019 has not yet been enacted and funds for the Road Board can be allotted to other government agencies like the Philippine General Hospital or the University of the Philippines.

As for the MVUC fund, Congress ought to abolish it through the enactment of an amendatory law because the tax creating it is a heavy burden on an overtaxed citizenry. Surely, there are other sources of revenues like higher taxes on real estate purchases made by elective government officials and their relatives. That measure also discourages graft.

At the end of the day, the taxpayers should ask if the MVUC fund has translated to better roads, improved road safety and less vehicular pollution. The answer is in the negative.

Many segments of EDSA have very rough surfaces. Asphalted streets in Metropolitan Manila melt during the rainy season.

Road safety is virtually inexistent in the metropolis because motorcycles, jeepneys and taxicabs violate traffic rules with impunity, especially at night. Drunk drivers roam at night with no restrictions because traffic cops are nowhere to be found after dark.

The same can be said of the traffic enforcers of Danny Lim’s Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA). At this time of the year, the MMDA is more concerned about the Metropolitan Manila Film Festival than about traffic management.

Many roads in the metropolis lack sufficient lighting at night and become road hazards, especially to motorists who are not familiar with the area. Motorcycles (tricycles included), jeepneys and taxicabs continue to belch smoke in many traffic-prone areas.

All the foregoing are clear indications that the MVUC funds have been obviously misused. This is the best argument for the abolition of this abominable tax and that useless agency called the Road Board.

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