Drilon insists Road Board abolition bill validly passed
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.