Drilon in­sists Road Board abo­li­tion bill validly passed

The Philippine Star - - NEWS - – Paolo Romero

The Se­nate should stand pat on its po­si­tion that the bill abol­ish­ing the cor­rup­tion-tainted Road Board has been validly passed by both houses of Congress and not en­ter­tain calls to con­vene a bi­cam­eral con­fer­ence com­mit­tee to come up with a new ver­sion of the mea­sure, Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Franklin Drilon said yes­ter­day.

Drilon warned if the Se­nate heeds the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tive’s call for a bi­cam­eral con­fer­ence despite the for­mer’s ear­lier move to adopt the House’s ver­sion pre­cisely to dis­pense with the bi­cam­eral panel, there is a pos­si­bil­ity that the 17th Congress will close with­out abol­ish­ing the Road Board.

“It is very im­por­tant that we main­tain our po­si­tion that the bill to abol­ish Road Board has been validly passed,” Drilon told dzBB.

The bi­cam­eral con­fer­ence com­mit­tee, which is com­posed of del­e­gates from the Se­nate and House, is con­vened to rec­on­cile con­flict­ing pro­vi­sions of the two cham­bers’ re­spec­tive ver­sions of a bill.

House Ma­jor­ity Leader Rolando An­daya Jr. ear­lier pushed that the bi­cam­eral com­mit­tee on the bill be con­vened.

He said the pro­posal for the con­ven­ing of the com­mit­tee on the abo­li­tion of the Road Board would mean the Se­nate has to with­draw its adop­tion of the House ver­sion on Sept. 12 last year.

But Drilon said the dan­ger and the pos­si­bil­ity that the panel will not come up with an ap­proved ver­sion are al­ways present.

“With all due re­spect, we don’t agree to it. It’s very sim­ple: if we agree to con­vene the bi­cam, then it means the Se­nate has to re­con­sider its adop­tion of the House ver­sion like as if the bill was not passed,” he said.

He then asked: “What hap­pens when the bi­cam fails to pass an ap­proved ver­sion given that in a month’s time the 17th Congress would end?”

“I’m not say­ing it’s go­ing to hap­pen but there is a pos­si­bil­ity,” he added.

Drilon ear­lier ex­plained that when the Se­nate adopted the House bill, there were no more dis­agree­ing pro­vi­sions, hence the mea­sure was con­sid­ered ap­proved.

The mi­nor­ity leader also said he will ques­tion the sta­tus of the mo­tor ve­hi­cle user’s charge (MVUC), say­ing that despite the agency’s pro­nounce­ment that it stopped re­leas­ing funds as early as 2017, there were re­ports of fund re­leases made that year.

The Road Board ad­min­is­ters the MVUC, which is taken from the an­nual reg­is­tra­tion of mo­tor ve­hi­cles. The MVUC is an off-bud­get item, mean­ing beyond the scru­tiny of Congress.

Other sen­a­tors how­ever are seen to agree to the con­ven­ing of the com­mit­tee to put in ad­di­tional amend­ments, like ex­pand­ing the list of projects to be funded by the MVUC, and mak­ing it part of the an­nual na­tional bud­get for trans­parency.

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