PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte himself has said that he wants, and will support the move, to abolish the Road Board.
“I hate to say it but please, if it’s good for the people, good for the trust deposited on the people on government, let’s just go ahead and abolish it,” he said in a speech Friday evening at the Philippine Air Force (PAF) change of command ceremony at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.
The President acknowledged that a “Constitutional crisis” could arise from the different positions of the two chambers of Congress on the matter, but he said he will side with the Senate.
“You know, there is a little bit of a ruckus there in Congress regarding the abolition or the continuance of the Road Users’ Tax. I believe that the Senate has decided the right thing and has stated that the Road Tax Board has been dismantled,” Mr. Duterte said, noting that this has been his position “since he assumed office” in 2016.
“I’ve always been wary about this office because it has been the milking cow of people who are government. Ever since I really questioned the existence of this office. it is nothing but a depository of money and for corruption,” he said.
Earlier on Friday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo already said in a press briefing in Malacañang that the President will “most likely” sign the bill abolishing the Road Board even without the signature of House Speaker Gloria M. Arroyo.
“It (the bill) was received by the legislative liaison office… Still they (House of Representatives) can say, ‘but we did not sign it’, so there might be a legal question on whether or not that is, from the point of view of the law, is indeed an enrolled bill ready for signing. So maybe somebody will have to go to the courts,” Mr. Panelo said.
“If the President really wants to end this, he will sign it. And then they will go to the court. Those from the House may question it,” he added.
House bill No. 7436, which abolishes the Road Board, was adopted by the Senate last Sept 12, but was later rescinded by the House of Representatives on the same day.
Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III earlier said the matter has to be brought to the courts after the two chambers of Congress held different views as to whether the Road Board was considered abolished or not.
Ms. Arroyo, meanwhile, said she has yet to consult Mr. Duterte on the Road Board abolition issue.
“I have to consult the President on that,” the Speaker said earlier on Friday, before the President’s speech at the PAF event.
House Majority Leader Rolando G. Andaya, Jr. — who has been asserting that Mr. Duterte told him during a dinner in September that the policy direction is to reform, and not abolish, the Road Board — also released a statement Friday reiterating his claim and citing a letter of Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III to Ms. Arroyo dated Sept. 20.
The letter outlined the priority tax measures of the Duterte administration.
Sa sulat na iyon, malinaw ang gusto ng DoF: taasan ang registration fees ng mga motorsiklo, kotse, truck , jeep, SUV at lahat ng motor vehicles. ‘Ni walang pahapyaw na buwagin ang Road Board (In that letter, it is clear what the DoF wants: Increase the registrations fees of motorcycles, cars, trucks, jeeps, SUVs, and all motor vehicles. There is no hint whatsoever on abolishing the Road Board),” Mr. Andaya said.
In the letter, Mr. Dominguez requested the House committee on ways and means to pass the proposed reforms on tax amnesty, excise tax on alcohol and tobacco products, motor vehicle road user charge, capital income and financial taxes, and property valuation “in the following order.”
“We, in Congress, believed that Sec. Dominguez is speaking for the economic managers when he spelled out the government’s economic agenda,” Mr. Andaya said. — Camille A. Aguinaldo and Charmaine A. Tadalan