With road user’s tax collected from every registered vehicle, you’d expect better maintenance of roads and highways all over the Philippines but, alas, such is not the case.
This has prompted House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to file House Bill No. 6236 that seeks to abolish the agency tasked to handle the road user’s tax due to corruption, the Road Board.
According to Alvarez, the road user’s tax, under Republic Act 8794, is a special fund earmarked for ‘road maintenance and improvement of road drainage, installation of efficient traffic lights and road safety devices, and air pollution control.’
The Road Board is tasked to utilize the funds wisely and prudently for road/highway management and maintenance.
Since it was established in 2001 and until 2012, the Road Board has collected approximately Php 90.72 billion and it is this amount and how it was disbursed that is being questioned by Alvarez.
“Obviously, the Road Board is just another layer of bureaucracy, which became another avenue for graft and corruption,” said Alvarez.
Citing Commission on Audit (COA) reports, Alvarez indicated that from 2001 to 2010, inconsistencies amounting to Php 1.495 billion in the total collection of the road user’s tax between the declared collections of the Land Transportation Office and the certification from the Bureau of Treasury were discovered, and discrepancies were also found in the use of more than Php 1.66 billion in 2013.
Under the bill, the functions of the Road Board will be transferred to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr), and the road user’s tax collected shall be remitted to the National Treasury before it gets appropriated to the DPWH and DOTr.
Part of the funds will also be assigned to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for pollution control measures.