By Ellson Quismorio
Up to the very end, House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez insisted that the Road Board was a "faultless" institution that only had good intentions.
House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez (KJ ROSALES / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
"Walang kasalanan ang Road Board...Kaya it’s sad (The Road Board has no fault...that's why it's sad), a good law with good intention, but because of ulterior motives of some people, na-abolish (it was abolished)," Suarez told reporters during a press conference Wednesday, looking misty-eyed and staring blankly at the ceiling.
On Tuesday, it was reported that President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act (RA) 11239, which effectively abolished the Road Board, and provided for the disposition of collections of the motor vehicle user’s charge (MVUC) or the so-called road users' tax.
The MVUC was institutionalized under RA 8794, the same law that created the Road Board.
"Sana hindi na natin pag usapan yan eh, pero anyway, masakit sa akin yan kase ako ang may akda niyan with the best intention...Napakaganda ng programa, pag-aalaga ng kaayusan ng kalsada, traffic light, signal, pollution," the Quezon 3rd district congressman said.
(I wish we wouldn't talk about that, but anyway, that hurts for me because I authored that with the best intention...Such a great program on maintenance of roads, traffic lights, signals, and addressing pollution.)
If anything, Suarez noted that the dissolution of the board had no effect on the existing road users' tax collection. "Yung pondo naman hindi naman nawawala, nandyan (The fund isn't gone, it's still there)."
But then, who should be blamed for the Road Board's demise? Suarez said it's the people who attempted to milk the agency for money.
"Ang may kasalanan, yung mga nanghingi sa kanila na nung hindi binigay sa kanila, in-abolished nila. They were threatened, sabi, 'Pag hindi niyo ni-release yan sa amin I–a-abolish namin kayo.' Nagsumbong sa akin eh."
(Those at fault are the people who had it abolished after their attempt to ask money from it was rejected. They were threatened. They said, 'If you don't release that to us, we will abolish you. That was their complaint to me.)
Pressed for specifics, the Minority Leader could only reply: "Alam niyo naman yun kung sino. Tanungin niyo yung sa Road Board kung sino yung nanghingi sa kanila (You know who they are. Ask the Road Board who were asking money from them)."
It was in August 2017 when former House Speaker, Davao del Norte 1st district Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez filed House Bill (HB) 6236, which sought the abolition of the Road Board.
According to Alvarez, the board was "another layer of bureaucracy, which became another avenue for graft and corruption." In particular, he noted the alleged illegal utilization of the
MVUC collection, which amounted to over P90 billion from 2001 to December 2012.
Alvarez was replaced by former president, Pampanga 2nd district Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in July 2018 via a coup among House members. (Ellson A. Quismorio)