Senator Franklin Drilon has moved to abolish the controversial Road Board, amid allegations that the proceeds from the motor vehicle user’s charge (MVUC) or road user’s tax fall to corruption.
The board, which oversees the disposal of the road user’s tax, has exclusive jurisdiction over the projects which will be funded by the proceeds from MVUC, even as Republic Act 8794 that created it cites specific purposes for its use such as maintenance of roads, improvement of drainage system, installation of road safety devices and air pollution control, said Drilon.
“We have heard horror stories regarding the use of MVUC. The problem is the board is the one who determines what the projects are. We cannot help but raise eyebrows when you look at the usage of MVUC,” said Drilon, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, adding that this was the practice during the Arroyo administration.
Drilon also questioned the board’s authority to appropriate public funds, since only Congress can appropriate public funds.
As the MVUC does not form part of the budget, Drilon calls for transparency in allocating the MVUC, saying that Congress must exercise its oversight functions. He said the funds must be deposited to the national treasury and subsequently appropriated by Congress in the budget.
He said part of the fund misuse was its diversion from the specific purposes listed by law to payment of salaries, allowances, maintenance and other operating expenses. The fund was even used for former President Arroyo’s OYSTER (out-of-school youth serving towards economic recovery) program, which is not clearly a road maintenance project but a political accommodation program, said Drilon.
The road tax collected from 2001 up to the present reached a total of P64 billion. The fee is collected from owners who are mandated by law to register their private, public as well as government vehicles annually at the Land Transportation Office. The Road Board is composed of four Cabinet members from Public Works, Transportation, Budget, and Finance, with three private sector representatives.
Drilon said 41 projects amounting to some P360 million were approved by the Road Board and funded by MVUC in previous years even if the projects were not officially listed by the Public Works department. He added that either the Board overrules the decision of the Public Works secretary or the secretary is in collusion with the Board.
“Somebody is just playing around with this. That is why there is so much flak that the MVUC is getting because of the corruption,” Drilon stated.