By Charmaine A. Tadalan, January 16 2019; Business World


Image Credit to Business World

THE HOUSE OF Representatives on Wednesday approved on second reading an amended version of the Road Board abolition bill, in time for a Bicameral Conference Committee scheduled next Monday, House Majority Leader Rolando G. Andaya, Jr. said.

“It has been withdrawn on third reading, we will put it back here on second reading then we will introduce amendments to be passed on second reading today,” Mr. Andaya, who represents the 1stdistrict of Camarines Sur, said in a briefing ahead of the plenary session on Wednesday.

The approval came even after Buhay Rep. Jose L. Atienza, Jr. raised the lack of quorum. The House secretariat had counted 163 lawmakers present, but Mr. Atienza said there were only 142.

“We expect to hold a bicam on Monday, as requested by the Senate,” Mr. Andaya said, adding, “Aabot ‘yan (It can be done), we will get a certification kung kailangan (as needed).”

The Majority Leader had met on Tuesday evening with his Senate counterpart, Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri, and also with Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, to discuss how to proceed with the Road Board abolition.

The legislators had agreed to abolish the Road Board and have its collection remitted to the National Treasury.

“Tatanggalin na po ‘yung (We will delete the) special account in the General Fund. It will no longer be a separate account. It will now be part of the National Budget or the General Fund to be used sa (in the) GAA (General Appropriations Act),” he said.

The funds collected will be allocated for repairs and maintenance of roads and bridges, but may also be tapped for calamity relief, upon approval of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

House Bill No. 7436, which the Senate had adopted, proposes to abolish and transfer the function of the Road Board to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and Department of Transportation (DoTr).

Mr. Andaya also said the bill was tackled in the House committee on government reorganization, which should have been discussed by the House ways and means committee.

“We have discovered that there was an erroneous referral to the particular bill. It was passed by the committee on government reorganization. But in reality, this bill is a tax measure,” he said, noting that the creation of the Road Board is “merely incidental.”

For his part Mr. Zubiri said he will discuss with the other senators the bill’s recall and its proposed amendments.

“We will take it up with the senators tomorrow, but I’m sure we will all agree to the recall and quick bicam to approve these amendments,” he said on Tuesday evening.

“We don’t need to make bawi (recall) the 3rd reading approval. We will just recall our adoption of the House measure and reconstitute the bicam.”